Sunday, May 31, 2009

Single-payer health care: Baucus keeps getting an earful

Sen. Max Baucus' insistence that consideration of a national single-payer health plan at this point will squander a golden opportunity for health care reform in the United States continues to be met with stiff resistance from many of his constituents.

'The word 'insurance' does not equal health care,' Janelle Kuechle of Polson said at a meeting here Thursday. 'If I have to pay a $900 premium to have health insurance with a $10,000 deductible, that is not health care.'

But Baucus - whose staff has fanned out across Montana this week for two dozen 'listening sessions' on the subject - was also hit from another angle when he sent a representative to the Flathead Indian Reservation.

'I hope any plan does not forget about the nation's first people,' said Dr. LeAnna Muzquiz of St. Ignatius.

Then Kevin Howlett told Richard Litsey, counsel and senior adviser on Indian affairs for the Senate Finance Committee Baucus chairs, that the senator's plan largely does just that.

'I can find nothing in his white paper,' said Howlett, director of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Health and Human Services Department, 'that provides for Native American health care on a par with the rest of the country.'


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