Single-payer Advocates: Let’s Attend Healthcare Meetings This Saturday

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The Obama campaign, which continues under the moniker of “Organizing for America,” will be holding community meetings around the country this Saturday, June 6, to begin organizing a push for healthcare reform.  The posted agenda for the meeting is (1) watch a televised pep talk by President Obama; and (2) make plans on how to reach out in your community to pressure Congress to pass a healthcare plan which meets the President’s three requirements:

 

    (1)    Reduces costs;

    (2)    Guarantees choice; and

    (3)    Offers quality care to all.

That sounds like single-payer to me!  Let’s all sign up for one of these meetings.  Go to www.barackobama.com, register if you haven’t already, and follow the prompts to find and sign up for a meeting near you.

Let’s tell other people at the meeting why we think single-payer is the only plan which can accomplish the President’s three objectives.  Let’s tell them we are ready to reach out in our community to pressure Congress to pass single-payer.

Let’s say we think the Senate committee considering healthcare reform, chaired by Mad Max Baucus, got off to a very bad start by excluding single-payer from the table, and even arresting doctors and nurses who wanted to join the 15 vested interests at the table and speak in favor of a single-payer plan.  http://www.prosperityagenda.us/node/73  Such a narrow-minded approach has alienated a lot of people and diminished the prospects for real reform.

Let’s suggest that others at the meeting call the White House and their congressional reps and demand that they take a more inclusive approach to all alternatives, including especially the one which has the most support among the American people, single-payer.

Take flyers on single-payer and pass them out to those at the meeting.  For instance, print out copies of “Top 10 Reasons to Support H.R. 676″, which can be found at http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org/sites/default/files/10-Reasons.pdf

ABOUT SINGLE PAYER:

The single-payer plan is based on House Resolution 676, authored by Rep. John Conyers, and cosponsored at last count by 77 House members.  If you need to bone up, you can find a brief description of the plan at www.healthcare-now.org and more info at http://conyers.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Issues.Home&Issue_id=063b74a4-19b9-b4b1-126b-f67f60e05f8c.

 

Here are the main things you need to know:

 *Coverage is universal.  “Everybody in, nobody out.”  You get a health card at birth and keep it until you die.

 *Unlike coverage provided by private insurers, you would be free to go to any doctor.

 *Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.

 *Single payer would get insurance companies OUT of healthcare.  Your healthcare providers would send their bills for your treatment to a single publicly-financed government healthcare agency for payment (similar to the current Medicare system), not to a multiplicity of insurance companies (hence, “single payer”).

 *Single-payer healthcare would be financed primarily thru taxes, including payroll taxes on both employers and employees, which would be lower than present payments to private insurance companies.

 

Q & A:

 Why would single-payer cost less than private insurance?  The main goal of private insurance companies, like all for-profit corporations, is to MAXIMIZE PROFIT FOR SHAREHOLDERS, not to provide quality medical care to patients.  They maximize profit by denying coverage to those who need it the most and are likely to file the most claims.  They even hire people to go over the health records of policy holders who file the biggest claims (e.g., cancer, etc.) to find reasons to deny them.

 

Thousands of people are employed in insurance companies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, etc. to handle claims to numerous insurance companies with different coverages, policies and forms; many fewer would be needed with only one insurer.  Insurance companies and healthcare providers now spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing, which would not be needed in a single-payer system.  Private insurance companies spend 20-25% of their revenue on these and other administrative expenses, leaving only 75-80% to be spent on healthcare.  As a comparison, Medicare spends only about 3% on administrative expenses, leaving 97% of revenues for healthcare.

 

Is single-payer socialism?  No.  Single-payer is publicly-financed but privately provided.  In socialist health systems, such as those in Great Britain, Spain, or the VA, the government operates the system, owns the hospitals, pays the doctors, etc.  Under single-payer, doctors, hospitals and other providers would continue their private practices, not be owned by or become employees of the government.

 

During his campaign, President Obama advocated a public/private system, where everyone would have a choice of private health insurance or joining a public plan.  What’s wrong with that?  Giving Americans a choice of joining a public plan before they reach Medicare age would be a step forward over the present system.  The problem would be that, because of their goal of maximizing profit, private insurers would have strong incentives to cherry-pick only healthy people, leaving sick people who need health insurance the most to join the public plan.  This would create higher costs for the public plan, and give an unfair advantage to private insurers.  Why not just go all the way and provide a universal public plan now?

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