Medicare For All
The Insurance Industry Is Hijacking the Uninsured
As Congress discusses a new national health plan, the health insurance industry has offered to voluntarily make reforms such as ending discrimination for age or previous condition. In return they are demanding a universal system in which all Americans will be required by law to purchase insurance from private for-profit companies. Government subsidies would cover those who canít afford it. This will create a windfall of 46 million new customers.
The industry wants to perpetuate one of the most wasteful and ineffective health systems in the world. Our system of private insurance already costs twice as much per person as in any other country, but is rated only 37th in overall performance by the World Health Organization.
Three Parks for Single Payer
Three Parks Independent Democrats has endorsed the Single Payer approach to universal health care. We do not believe that private for-profit insurance should play a major role in the national plan being debated in Congress. We join the NY State Assembly and National Conference of Mayors in supporting the U.S. National Health Insurance Act of 2009, H.R. 676.
Single Payer Deserves a Fair and Open Hearing
As the debate unfolds in Congress, H.R. 676 is buried in the Ways and Means Committee. The result is that the only alternatives under active consideration in the House are plans that are either all private or almost all private. H.R. 676 should be brought out for debate so the case against private insurance can be clearly made.
Polls show that more than half of all Americans would support a public system. Many people are less able to afford their private coverage and employers, public and private, are cutting back on health benefits. The old ways are disappearing.
We Can Have the World's Best Health Care
The United States can have the worldís best health care system, or we can have one built on private for-profit insurance companies -- but not both. We now have a patchwork of over 1,300 health insurance companies each with its own rules and procedures. They waste enormous amounts of money just competing with each other, paying executive bonuses, advertising and of course taking a profit out of every premium dollar. Medicare, a public single payer system, does none of these.
The Public Option
In their campaigns for the presidential nomination, Obama, Clinton and Edwards all proposed a mixed system in which each person would have the choice of going with a private company or joining a public plan similar to Medicare. This could be a start provided it were priced to reflect the true administrative cost savings of public plans, it operated under the same rules as private plans, and, the public option was the default plan for new people coming into the system unless someone specifically chose a private plan.
Private Insurance - No Basis for a New System
Health insurance profits come from two sources: collecting more in premiums than are paid in benefits and speculating in the stock market. Neither of these inspires confidence as the foundation of a universal health care system. We have seen it over and over -- if we donít get sick the insurance companies keep our premiums; if we do get sick they keep them anyway and make us fight to get our medical bills paid. Health care providers then hold us individually responsible for what the insurance wonít cover.
Private Insurance - Good Unless You Use It
Insurance is based on the principle of shared risk. The need for health care, however, isnít a risk; in todayís world itís a certainty. Insurance only works if it is never used by the vast majority of people who pay into it. For example automobile theft insurance works because the vast majority of cars are not, in fact, stolen. But, if you live in a neighborhood where a lot of cars are stolen, you either canít get insurance or it is so expensive that you canít afford it. Home owner insurance works because most homes are not destroyed by flood. But if you live within fifty miles of the coast, you canít get insurance and are put in a state sponsored insurance pool. Insurance companies are still refusing to pay for Katrina damage. Insurance only works when most people donít use it.
Single Payer Is a System
Health care is a positive good at every stage of our lives. It isnít a risk or something we might not need. Health care is like education: it's an ongoing necessity. It is something we want everyone to have and to use. We need a system that delivers the most health care at the lowest cost, not one based on the assumption that we wonít use it.
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Opinion on What it Means 3/23/10
Paul Krugman: Fear Strikes Out 3/21/10
Physicians For a National Health Program 3/22/10
Issues in the House/Senate Negotiations
Health Care Assessment, Another Viewpoint
Opinion: A Less Than Honest Policy. 12/29/09
Opinion: Withdrawl of the Public Option. 12/09/09
Opinion: Why Kucinich
voted no. 11/09/09
Opinion: The New
House Bill 10/30/09
Daily Show on public option. 9/30/09. First ten minutes.
Rep. Weiner - Insurance - Video
Comment on recent House bill
Great MSNBC Single Payer Video
Club Health Care Resolution
Glossary of Terms
10 Reasons to Support Single Payer
NY Assembly's Resolution
Our response to Senator Schumer
Bill Clinton On Single Payer Video
Physicians For a National Health Plan
Unions for Single Payer
A delegation of single payer groups and four Democratic clubs met with Congressman Rangel and his staff. We made the following points:
1) Every Democrat from Obama on down campaigned on a public option like Medicare. The public option in the House tri-committee bill bears no resemblance to Medicare. It isn't universal, it isn't paid for out of tax money, and it isn't the default program into which everyone goes who doesn't opt out. It is basically a not-for-profit stand-alone insurance company similar to Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Not-for-profit is better than for-profit, but it isn't anything new and it isn't the solution.
2) The Times/CBS poll shows that 72 percent support a government run program like Medicare. This isn't one, and enough Americans are enrolled in Medicare to know the difference.
3) The benefits available in the public plan are pegged to the benefits offered by private insurance companies and are prohibited from being made better. We suspect that the premiums are also pegged to the private company rate, but the section that addresses that seems to be missing from the bill.
4) The public option is needlessly prohibited from receiving any federal subsidies beyond startup costs. Private health insurance is one of the most heavily subsidized industries; the public plan should be given subsidies of comparable value.
5) The proposed public plan is required to have a contingency fund paid for out of premiums. There is no need for such a fund, as the U.S. Treasury is the contingency fund for all federal programs, and, it turns out, for the whole financial industry as well. The contingency fund is just a way to raise the premiums in relation to the private companies.
6) We also said that if Rangel went into negotiations with the Senate and started with the Houseís having passed HR 676, there would be a possibility that the bill he released would emerge as the compromise. But to start with an already seriously compromised bill and bargain down from there will not produce a desired result.
7) Whatever the politics of the situation may be, there is no explanation yet as to how they will pay for a public plan and what the real price tag will be. So far, the only viable way to pay for universal coverage is single payer; we believe that in the end that is what they will come back to as the least expensive program and the only one the country can afford.
8) The people are way ahead of Congress in their willingness to support a program actually based on the Medicare model, whether it is single payer or the mixed approach. It is high time for our elected officials to show some real leadership.
9) Single Payer is the only plan that the nation can afford because it won't cost any more than we are now spending on health care. The US now spends twice as much as the countries with the best health care systems in the world. Only Single Payer allows all of that money to be reorganized into one national tax supported health care system. This is done by eliminating all private for-profit health insurance companies.