Today, former DNC chairman, Vermont governor, and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean spoke at Campus Progress about the health reform debate. While he does not have a formal stake in the fight, he is eminently quotable. Here are some highlights:
On private insurers: "If they don’t change, then they should go out of business.”
On the public option: "The reason we need a public option is to teach Americans that there is a better system, a system like Medicare. ... If it doesn't have a public option it's not worth passing."
On public option compromises: "Co-ops and trigger mechanisms are not real reform. Let’s not spend $600 billion of our money on something that’s not real reform."
On progress in Congress: "Last week is the best week for health care we’ve ever had. The truth is, we’re doing pretty well. The bill has passed three committees of reference that matter."
On budget reconciliation: "I think we should use reconciliation, because frankly the Republicans are not interested in helping."
On his work for biotech firms: "There has to be intellectual property protection. If there isn’t, innovation stops. The reason there is no innovation in Europe is because of regulation on prices. ... Probably more Republicans agree with me on this issue than Democrats."
On health care IT: "Software vendors often go into new fields and don’t know anything about the field. ... They never seem to ask doctors and hospitals what they really need. ... It will be a painful, painful process. It won’t be great for the patient because it won’t be great for the provider."
On cost savings: “If you ever want to save costs, it can never happen in the private sector. ... Switzerland and Netherlands treat their private insurers like regulated utilities. Our private insurers are not going to want to do that."
On who we should be reading: "Atul Gawande’s article is a must-read for anyone who cares at all about health care. It’s the best article on anything I’ve read in 20 years. "