Thursday, December 25, 2008

Obama builds team to solve health care

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD PhD, has been appointed adviser for health care to the new president.  He is the author of a comprehensive plan to cover all US citizens with high quality health care which seems like exactly what we need.  Unfortunately, he is more well known for his brother and incoming White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, with cries of nepotism surfacing.

Zeke Emauel's plan, outlined in his book Healthcare, Guaranteed, calls for a value-added tax (VAT) on consumption that would pay for universal health insurance.  The plan issuccinctly outlined in two posts on Maggie Mahar's blog: Part 1 is here and Part 2, here.

The advantages:

1. Everyone is covered and everyone pays in.

2. Health insurance is decoupled from employers.

3. Eliminates the differences that exist in reimbursement.

Potential disadvantages include the possibility that a 10% VAT would be insufficient thus leading to another government entitlement burdened with cost overruns.  This seems like a smalll risk to take given that the current health care "system" is increasingly unworkable and bankrupting our nation.  In addition, cost overruns and revenue shortfalls would be extremely easy to remedy under Emanuel's plan.

While I had favored Hillary Clinton's mandate for health insurance over Obama's less comprehensive plan during the Democratic primary, this development is very heartening and signals that the new president is astutely assembling the team with the right ideas.  Obama gets it. 

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