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Healthcare: What Liberals Really Want

April 21, 2009

By David Gratzer

Democrats are clear that they have no intention of proposing a British-style single-payer health care system this year.

That said, many liberals believe that government-run health care really works. And while strategically they are willing to acknowledge the shortcomings of the Canadian and British systems, in their hearts, they still believe.

President Obama basically endorsed this view in a March town hall.

So I think we can accomplish it. Now, whether we do it exactly the way European countries do or Canada does is a different question, because there are a variety of ways to get to universal health care coverage.

A lot of people think that in order to get universal health care, it means that you have to have what’s called a single-payer system of some sort. And so Canada is the classic example: Basically, everybody pays a lot of taxes into the health care system, but if you’re a Canadian, you’re automatically covered. And so you go in -- England has a similar -- a variation on this same type of system. You go in and you just say,

"I’m sick," and somebody treats you, and that’s it.

The problem is, is that we have what’s called a legacy, a set of institutions that aren’t that easily transformed.

Is the problem with converting American health care to a single-payer system “legacy”? Or is it that these systems don’t actually work?

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