I love the Internet. It has a way of bringing people closer together. I saw Governor Howard Dean at a town hall meeting in Washington D.C earlier this month. He’s a dynamic speaker. I wanted to ask him some questions, but the place was packed, so I couldn’t get close to him. Not to be deterred, I emailed Governor Dean in hopes of getting a response to a couple of my questions. He not only responded to my email, he agreed to an interview for my blog. See, the Internet really can bring people closer together. I want to thank Governor Dean for stopping by Nurse Ratched’s Place to talk about healthcare reform.

Question: What is your take on the state of our healthcare system? What do you envision for our system, and how do we get there from here? Can America really afford a public option plan?

Answer: Our system is in disarray. We need a system in which the American consumer has real choices, including allowing people under 65 to sign up for Medicare, which is what the public option will look like. That way people can get affordable insurance which can never be taken away, which can’t be denied, and which will follow them through every job, every loss of job, and every move. We can’t afford NOT to have a public option.

Question: How flexible is the public option: will a person be able to move between the public option and private options as their needs and circumstances change?

Answer: People will be able to move back and forth between the public option and private insurance plans as they see fit, up to once a year.

Question: Given your unique perspective as a physician, can you tell us one aspect of the public option that you like and one aspect that you might not be happy with?

Answer: As a physician I would sign up for the public option at once if it is cheaper than what I have now. I would definitely sign my twenty something kids up; it would give them insurance for life at a reasonable cost no matter what they were doing and where they were living.

Question: One of my nursing coworkers wanted me to ask you this question. How will healthcare reform impact nursing workforce issues? Will we see mandated caps on salaries, and how will healthcare reform impact nurse to patient ratios?

Answer: Workforce issues are not addressed in any of the health care options being discussed in Congress. Most Democrats I know favor nurse/patient staff ratios to protect quality of care.

Question: Preventative healthcare is a key component in the healthcare reform debate. What are your thoughts on a proposal that would make the Chief Nurse Officer of the United States Public Health Service the National Nurse? In your opinion, would establishing the Office of the National Nurse have any impact on health promotion or on healthcare reform?

Answer: As a lot of people know, I am a huge supporter of the Office of National Nurse, and since Congress has been slow to act, I am hoping some changes can be made directly by HHS while we await more complete action by Congress.