On June 12, 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Pathways to Universal Health Coverage. You can watch the video here.
Don Berwick, MD, MPP, former director of the Center for Medicare and Medcaid Services, was among the witnesses. He said “The United States ranks 56th in the world in infant mortality and 43rd in life expectancy.” You can read his testimony here.
Video. The orientation straightens out after a few minutes.
On Saturday, June 8, 2019, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Headquarters in Chicago, students, physicians, nurses, unions, and single payer activists from around the country protested against the American Medical Association’s opposition to Improved Medicare for All.
The AMA has joined with the leading insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital companies to form the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future to campaign against national single payer health care.
The June 8 Action called on the AMA to withdraw from this corporate front group.
The action was initiated by Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP), the medical student affiliate of Physicians for a National Health Program. The All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care is among a broad range of co-sponsors of the event.
From the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Headquarters the demonstrators marched to the Hyatt Regency Chicago to call on the American Medical Association to stop actively campaigning against Medicare for All, which 55% of physicians and the vast majority of people in the US support. Inside the AMA meeting a number of protesters staged a die-in to dramatize the consequences of the AMA policy.
The AMA’s opposition to Medicare is longstanding.
In 1968, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, co-founder and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, politely and briefly took over a microphone at the American Medical Association’s national meeting because of the A.M.A.’s opposition to the right to health care.
Fifty-one years later, the A.M.A., along with its well-financed corporate partners in the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, is still leading the charge against universal, single-payer health care, also known as Medicare for All.
There is a brief video of Dr. Sidney Wolfe at this link.
Rep. John Yarmuth, Chair of the Budget Committee, held a public hearing on “Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System.”
The hearing took place on Wed. May 22, 2019, at 10 AM in 210 Cannon House Office Bldg. in Washington, DC. The witnesses were from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Rep. Yarmuth has said that there will be another hearing in the Budget Committee on Medicare for All that will hear from other witnesses.
You can watch the hearing here.
Here is the link to the questions that Rep. Yarmuth sent to the CBO.
Here is the link to Rep. Yarmuth’s statement on the CBO report.
Reprinted from The Courier-Journal – 05/06/2019
USA TODAY NETWORK
Metro budget – health insurance
With a population approaching 772,000, Louisville/Jefferson County is roughly the same size as Winnipeg, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; and Marseilles, France. Each of these cities has a budget covering operations, economic development, urban renewal, housing, etc., but only Louisville expects to pay over $50 million during the 2019-20 budget year to provide health insurance for city employees and retirees. Most of that sum will go to HUMANA, a private company that paid its CEO $16.3 million in compensation in 2018. This coming year, Metro workers facing stagnant wages can expect health plan premiums and deductibles to rise.
Municipalities large and small across the U.S. are held hostage by the costs of health insurance. Why are we locked into this foolish and inequitable system? In other advanced nations, cities do not go broke, cut police services, close recreational facilities to pay for health care. Why? Because their national government has done the math and set up a single-payer plan to cover every resident. All taxpayers participate, sharing risk and cost; for-profit insurers are heavily regulated, or not allowed.
I call on the voters and elected leaders of our community (whatever your party affiliation) to study the cost-effectiveness of single payer. We may not be able to fix this year’s city budget, but surely future budgets will reflect the fiscal common sense of running a city within a single-payer system.
This letter appeared in the Courier-Journal on May 3, 2019.
Great thanks to Dr. Garrett Adams for spelling out the benefits of a single payer, Medicare for All nationalhealth plan. I remember going to a single payer rally in Jeffersonville when a Koch Brothers’ “Americans for Prosperity” bus pulled up. People organized by the Kochs emerged with their rehearsed talking points to protest single payer and overwhelmed our rally. Doesn’t that speak volumes about who benefits from the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries?
In those countries Dr. Adams cited, and several others, nobody goes bankrupt from medical bills or worries about losing health insurance if they lose or quit their job. Preventive care is more accessible, helping to avoid putting off treatment until it’s lifethreatening. Their generally healthier diets also contribute to their longer life expectancy and better overall health. The high calorie, high salt (sodium) and sugar in our grocery and restaurant foods are literally killing us. One in four U.S. deaths is diet-related. Read all labels carefully. Avoid processed foods and look for lower calorie, lower sodium choices in restaurants. Healthier diets and Medicare for All will put us on par with the rest of the developed world.
Ruthanne Wolfe Gonder
Louisville, KY 40204
On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern presided over an all day hearing on Medicare for All. You can see the video of the hearing here.
Reprinted from the Courier-Journal, April 16, 2019
Your turn, Garrett Adams, Guest columnist
American health care is in continuing crisis. Access is declining, and costs are out of control. Medical bankruptcies, unheard of in other developed countries, still plague us. Even though the U.S. spends nearly twice as much per capita on health care, our health outcomes are far worse than other comparable nations. For example, way more American women die of pregnancy-related complications, and the rate is rising.
Statistics are people with the tears wiped dry.
What’s wrong? Corporate profiteering. Corporations squeeze the insured, you, for every nickel to pay their dividends and increase cash value. Insurance companies raise premiums, deductibles and copays; they deny claims and contrive to insure only healthy (cheap) people.
The patchwork of private insurance costs our nation billions in administration, billing and collecting – amounting to a full third of health care expenditures.
Hospitals track every pill and bandage and charge for each item. Physicians spend an average of nine hours a week with a jumble of plans for billing, preapproval and payment. It is taking a toll on the profession in burnout, early retirement, depression and suicide. Patients are angry and frustrated by the bureaucratic maze of filing claims, with justifiable claims often rejected.
Medicare Advantage, which privatizes Medicare, is burdened with fraud and poor cost control. Insurance companies selling Advantage plans bilked the government for an estimated $70 billion between 2008 and 2013.
The U.S. system isn’t about improving health care; it’s about profit. Single-payer changes the dynamic; with single-payer the system becomes patient-oriented, not profit-oriented.
Single-payer means ONE payer, the government, pays the bills while health care delivery (doctors and hospitals) remain in private hands. The wasteful bureaucracy of private health insurance goes away. The government becomes the insurer. Coverage is unhooked from employment, allowing workers to change jobs or start new businesses.
What about workers for insurance companies when single-payer replaces private insurance? The new system will need their administrative experience. Moreover, single-payer legislation specifies that displaced workers be provided retraining and two years of salary. Many, who are health care workers themselves, will move back to actually providing care. And, like all of us, they and their families will have all medically necessary care as a right!
In 2003 the first single-payer bill in the U.S. Congress was tagged the Medicare-for-All bill. The name stuck. Today there are many “Medicare for Alls.” However, only two are single-payer plans, one House and one Senate version. They provide for publicly financed, nonprofit national health insurance that fully covers medical care for all Americans.
Drug companies, for-profit hospitals, insurance companies and others invested in profit-based care are campaigning vigorously against single-payer, spreading misinformation and fearmongering.
Don’t believe the lies. National health plans work extraordinarily well in every other industrialized nation. Canada, Scotland, Sweden, Taiwan, Japan and dozens of others cover their entire population for a fraction of what the U.S. spends (wastes!) and enjoy longer lifespans and better health outcomes. An American single-payer plan will pay for itself by redirecting wasted administration and profiteering funds into patient care. Consider the vast difference in cost: From 2007 to 2014, spending in private plans grew nearly 17 percent per enrollee, while Medicare spending decreased 1.2 percent per beneficiary.
Congressman John Yarmuth has represented the 3rd District of Kentucky in the House of Representatives with honor and distinction since 2006, and he has been a single-payer champion. As chairman of the budget committee, he called for Medicare for All hearings. He knows that a majority of Americans support single-payer, but he has recently withdrawn his support. Chairman Yarmuth should give singlepayer his wholehearted endorsement.
Single-payer will have an immediate healing effect on all our people, and it will arrest our surging wealth inequality. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” With singlepayer, in one transformative action, on at least one level, everyone becomes the same, and we seriously commit to a true democracy with justice for all.
Dr. Garrett Adams is a founding member of Physicians for National Health Program-Kentucky and a member of the group’s national board.
The letter is reprinted from the April 14, 2019, edition of the Courier-Journal.
The sorry state of health care in this country is consistent–it’s sorry, but seems to be getting worse. From the usual Republican mantra of “repeal but no replacement,” to the many progressive, Democratic efforts to cover all citizens, the path forward is an untidy and unnerving effort.
It doesn’t need to be this way. The Medicare for All, Single Payer approach is the most viable and economically stable way to cover everyone for less dollars. Under this program, the vast majority of citizens would pay less and have much better coverage than is currently available. No premiums, no deductibles, and no copays, just a simple and affordable payroll tax that is matched by employers, along with a tax on unearned income. We cut out administrative waste, overhead and profit, and use the savings to fund the uninsured and underinsured. It’s really simple.
Finally, as a way to ensure the Medicare for All viability, all members of Congress and the administration would have the same coverage as everyone else. We can all rest assured that with this mandate, the long-term success would be a slam dunk. After all, why is Congress making decisions for our health care when they possess the best blue ribbon coverage in existence? They need to be part of the solution: Medicare for All, Single Payer.
Charlie Casper, Louisville 40207. Charlie Casper is the Treasurer of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care.
Since Congressman John Yarmuth was elected in 2006, he has cosponsored HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All bill, that would cover all of us under national single payer legislation.