2009-09-25 / Front Page

Weiner: Simple Fix For Health Care Reform

Sees Single Payer, Medicare-Like Plan
By Howard Schwach

Congressman Anthony Weiner doesn't see what all the teeth-gnashing over the overhaul of America's health care is all about.

Congressman Anthony Weiner (left) discusses health care reform on Air Force One with President Barak Obama, Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Congressman Anthony Weiner (left) discusses health care reform on Air Force One with President Barak Obama, Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts. He has what he calls a simple solution to the problem, one that is already in use and would supply health care to all of those who do not have coverage, while allowing everybody else to keep what they have.

"The president should talk about Medicare," Weiner told The Wave at a sitdown at its office on Monday. "Medicare is already in place and does the job for millions of seniors. It has its financing problems, but so does private insurance. We should simply expand Medicare to cover all citizens."

And, while Weiner sees Medicare as the single-payer system that America needs, he is not sure that such a plan will ever come to fruition.

"I've tried to garner support for my plan," the congressman said. "The health care industry is a tough sell. Businesses do not usually give up their profits without a fight, and that's what's happening here."

Weiner and Wave Editor Howard Schwach (left) discuss health care and other Rockaway issues outside the paper's office on Monday. Weiner and Wave Editor Howard Schwach (left) discuss health care and other Rockaway issues outside the paper's office on Monday. He says the odds of the health care industry voluntarily accepting a one-payer plan are roughly the same as a great unicorn wandering into The Wave office one day.

"Look," Weiner said, leaning back in his chair. "Inflation in the health care industry has been five percent each year even though the economy has a general deflation of a percent and a half. That tells us that something has to be done before health care runs us out of money entirely."

Weiner says, however, that the game is not over for real health care reform.

"We're in the eighth inning, going for the set-up guy," Weiner said, using a favorite baseball metaphor. "We're waiting for the closer to come in and win it for us."

"We can get legislation now to do a good thing," he added. "What we need is legislation to do the right thing."

Weiner envisions a health care exchange where the uninsured can go to purchase affordable health care for themselves and their families.

"Health care organizations have a 30 percent overhead because they pay their executives massive salaries," he said. "Medicare has a 3.5 percent overhead and pays its chief executive about $175,000 a year. Those health care organizations just keep charging more while dropping anybody who gets sick or who changes jobs. They don't apportion risk like car insurance companies do. [Health care organizations'] biggest trick is looking as if they are doing something."

Weiner says that under his plan, anybody with private insurance or Medicare would not be able to go to the exchange for insurance, and that everybody would be required to purchase insurance, "just like anybody who wants to drive a car has to purchase insurance now. We don't require car insurance just for people who have accidents."

"The great majority of people, he added, will not change their insurance or their doctors. Insurance, however, will cost them less."

Weiner is hoping that President Obama will come around to his way of thinking and use his "Bully Pulpit" to push a single-payer program.

"The president is going to have to decide soon if he is going to use his office to push a public option plan," Weiner said.

Meanwhile, he is mulling the possibility of a town hall meeting in Rockaway to address health care reform.

"I really believe in these meetings, these debates," he said. "The problem has been that 95 percent of the people have real concerns and want to discuss them, while five percent just want to disrupt the meeting."

As for his plan, he admits that he may well have to compromise to get the right health care plan.

"When you discuss Afghanistan, very few people have any experience with the question and they just walk away," he says. "But everybody has some experience with health care problems and nobody walks away. We have to get this right."

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What is Weiner thinking. Medicare will be broke soon. That means print more money that will eventually lead to inflation. Lets put all of the congressmen and Senators on the same plan we get and see how good it comes out.


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