November 11, 2008

It’s no mystery that the United States healthcare system is ailing. About 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Vets returning from Iraq struggle to receive sufficient treatment for the physical and mental tolls taken on them during deployment. Unexpected medical bills contributed significantly to the house foreclosure crisis. Millions of families around the country are struggling under the weight of climbing healthcare expenses, sometimes even when they have coverage.
Today, Marc broadcasts live from the main campus of Sheppard-Pratt Health System, in Towson. In our live panel, we had Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Steven S. Sharfstein, President and CEO of Sheppard-Pratt Hospital System; State Senator Dolores Kelly and former Maryland Governor, Bob EhrlichThey discussed the ways they’d like to see the system revamped, the possibilities for change in a new presidential administration and debate the impact of healthcare expenses on employers.

Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show currently airs on The Real News Network. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Email us to share your comments with us.


  1. count says:

    A great hour, excellent panelists. Only problem, practically every paragraph uttered by the commenters could engender a separate program.

    Marc, I would love you to do an hour, or ten or twenty hours, about employer-based coverage. Senator Mikulski and Mr. Ehrlich would be excellent choices for the panel, and they should be joined by a pragmatic but committed proponent of a single-payer system.

    For quite a long while my ability to understand discusssions about changing our health care system(s) has been severely impaired by the fact that I do not understand our commitment to employer-based coverage. You could do a great public service by illuminating this issue.

    I remember a notable week in 2006 when both Ford and GM announced the closing of several North American plabts. The U.S. took the hits in both cases. In their press releases and subsequent discussions, both companies were explicit in singling out the burden of providing healthcare coverage as a large factor in their decisions to close U.S. plants but maintain facilities in Canada and Mexico.

    Gee. Perhaps Canada’s healthcare system has something to recommend it. You think?

    Nay, not so! The same week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that it continued to adamantly oppose anything that smelled like single-payer coverage.

    Everyone who listened to your broadcast today probably knows that providing health coverage for employees is a tremendous burden for employers both large and small. It increases the price of my groceries, my purchases at the hardware store, vehicles, everything. The system guarantees that tens of millions of our people do not have coverage, and it increases costs for people who do have coverage.

    To me, the widely hailed Massachusetts plan is fundamentally flawed because it is employer-based. Obviously, fundamentally flawed doesn’t mean fatally flawed, at least in the near term.

    As I said, I don’t understand it. The only justification I’ve been able to find is that it’s traditional. We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way. That doesn’t seem like a sound basis for continuing an outdated policy when changed times call for better thinking.

    Why is Obama fixed on employer-based coverage? Is it because he thinks this is the only thing that will pass?

    Why does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose single-payer? Why don’t they want to get this burden off the backs of their members? Or do they, and they are holding out for Mr. Ehrlich’s solution? Maybe you could get a spokesperson to join you for that discussion.

    Minor observation about single-payer: can you imagine what this country would be like if we didn’t have Medicare? Shudder.

  2. count says:

    Who are the tens of millions who do not have health coverage? Not a rhetorical question – can someone answer this for me? Is it the working poor, people who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid? Are Medicaid beneficiaries included in the 47 mllion?

  3. count says:

    This is another good topic. For decades a community clinic has existed in Waverly, on Greenmount Avenue. I know the original facility, known as The People’s Free Clinic, was established after 1967 or 1968. Perhaps it was established before 1970, but I’m not positive. I don’t know what services the clinic offers now, I don’t know how it is funded, I don’t know who the clients are – I don’t know anything about it, really.

  4. count says:

    Gooserock, commenting at Daily Kos today, floated the idea that instead of bailing out GM and Ford with more tens of billions of dollars, we assume their healthcare costs by creating a Medicare-type program, with existing plans becoming Part B.

    Not sure of the merit, but seems like something to discuss. I don’t know what this would do to Toyota and Honda. Anyway, I’ve been wondering whether we should do something to make GM and Honda into entities that Honda and Toyota would want to buy, instead of trying to maintain the existing mess. Would this be a start?

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