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!?!

Did Bill Frist really say this?

Frist set out a clear goal, that "all Americans should have the security of lifelong affordable access to health care." He embraced some guiding principles, that the system should be consumer-driven, etc. Then he laid out six policy proposals, including "Healthy Mae" organizations (which would be like Fannie Mae to share insurance risks) and setting up tax-free health I.R.A.'s for old-age costs.
Now I don't have the foggiest idea what "like Fannie Mae but for health insurance" could possibly mean (this strikes me as on a par with "like the Marines, but aimed at ending homelessness" -- the first thing is a popular institution and the second thing is a social problem we'd like to end, so why not mention them in the same sentence?), but do we really want to model our health care system around a housing corporation whose dubious financial health threatens to bring the American economy to its knees of home prices ever fall?

UPDATE: Also, as Atrios says, you can read about Kerry's health plans in quite a bit of detail on his website if you're so inclined.

August 7, 2004 | Permalink

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» Fannie Mae for Health Care from Outside The Beltway ™
David Brooks's column points out several interesting initiatives that are floating around GOP circles. Most notable: Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, recently gave a speech at the National Press Club outlining an ambitious health care reform pl... [Read More]

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» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
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Comments

I think he's reffering to independent, ostensibly non profit, possibly federaly subsidized insurers, like the French use.
If he is, this is actualy a great idea.

Posted by: WillieStyle | Aug 7, 2004 11:44:54 AM

Frist is an idiot.

Federally subsidized private insurers. Hmm... makes you wonder. Oh wait, he and the bush cronies are into taking taxpayer money and giving it to poorly administered, money squelching (up to 25 cents of every dollar is wasted in administrative costs compared to less than 3 cents per dollar in medicare) private insurers.

Oh, but...wait. Frist's family OWNS one of the biggest private health insurance companies in the country.

I saw Frist give a speech at the press conference that kicked off "Cover the Uninsured Week" this year, in DC. He's so out of touch with the reality of what people need and want with health care. ANd he had to do his self-serving arrogant talk about how he's a cardiothoracic surgeon (definitely doctor of "the people") and how he held beating hearts in his career and saved lives, and how everyone should have this kind of health care. Well, that kind of health care ain't available under his tax-free HSA and IRA and Fannie Mae programs. It's good to know that some doctors actually care about the people and support progressive reforms in health care delivery and financing.

Single-payer; expanding public health insurance; lowering the age for eligibility for Medicare; regulation of hospital and drug costs; all these are viable solutions... but none of these are being talked about by Bush's folks.

Posted by: Anjali | Aug 7, 2004 11:56:25 AM

Frist's family co-founded a large for-profit hospital chain--Hospital Corporation of America-- not an insurance company.

Posted by: anon | Aug 7, 2004 12:30:29 PM

I think it's safe to assume that "consumer-driven" is Republican code for "administered by private companies."

Posted by: Redshift | Aug 7, 2004 12:36:06 PM

Clearly, this is just a ploy for Frist to get his hands on some free cats.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 7, 2004 1:40:56 PM

Ooops. I wrote fast and wrote in error that Frist's family owns a health insurance company -- yes, it owns the for-profit hospital chain HCA.

Sometimes I confuse private health insurance companies with private hospital chains... (hmm...)

Yes, and "consumer-driven" health care is a total ploy to get people to think about more "individual responsibility" and taking health care prices and knowledge into their own hands... it's a way to keep our eyes off the big picture and the people profiting off the big picture.

Posted by: Anjali | Aug 7, 2004 3:51:08 PM

one historical note: it may indeed be time to reduce the influence of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, et. al. on the economy, however, don't forget how difficult and expensive it was to get a home mortgage before they existed. Their hugeness is evidence that they were successful in their mandate to reduce the cost of home finance and increase the share of homeownership in the US.

That there could be some similar role for a government financed intermediary in the healthcare insurance market is a worthy idea, despite the pedigree of the man who mentioned it.

Posted by: LTF | Aug 8, 2004 9:05:21 PM

I think Frist has it all figured out.

A Healthie Mae would simply be a mortgage or a loan that takes 15 or 30 years to pay off a single trip to the hospital, loan-guaranteed by the govt.

The result? Health-care costs rise even faster (more profits for the Frist family), hospitals are guaranteed by the govt to be paid for their services (Frist family reduces risk), and the rest of us have an automatic way to pay these costs by getting a long-term loan that--provided we survive--we can focus on paying off for the rest of our lives (Frist family increases number of potential customers).

Brilliant, Doctor Frist!

Posted by: jrc | Aug 9, 2004 5:18:53 PM

the loan idea doesn't sound too bad actually.

insurance is money tossed away if you didn't need it that year.

people ought to, generally speaking, pay for their own medicine -- that's just good policy to avoid abuse of the system -- leaving disaster insurance coverage (stuff that really goes beyond lifestyle choice) to be socialized.

A $50,000 loan @ 0.5% could be paid off in 30 years with monthly payments of $150. Cheaper than insurance. Hell, capping the balance and socializing the excess almost makes sense to me.

(Having paid $15000 in premiums 2000-2003 and got 6 teeth cleanings from it).

Posted by: Troy | Aug 10, 2004 6:48:52 AM

(capping the balance at $50,000 per person)

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