On Saturday, August 12, 2017, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care (KSPH) participated in the Louisville AIDS Walk and events designed to continue the struggle to end AIDs and to assure care for those with HIV. Hundreds attended the festivities in Iroquois Park. Children delighted in the face painting and dogs joined their owners in the walk to support. Harriette Seiler, Secretary of KSPH, (in the pink hat) distributed single payer flyers to everyone. Those with HIV are among the patients who face cost challenges in assuring the medications necessary for life. The KSPH flyer is below.
Forward to single payer health care
While health care reform helped some, many with chronic conditions still find essential care and drugs too costly or not on their insurers’ formulary.
Over 300 patient advocacy groups have protested to Health & Human Services that many are still facing barriers to care.
The way forward. A bill in Congress, HR 676, Expanded & Improved Medicare for All, will provide care for everyone under a single payer, publicly funded system. All medically necessary care including dental & drugs will be covered–and you choose your doctor.
No co-pays, no deductibles, no limited networks.
No worry about medical bills! Monies now going to corporate profits will be available for care.
We invite you to join this movement. Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care meets 1st & 3rd Thursdays each month, 5:30 pm, Board Rm, Mezzanine, Louisville Free Public Library, 301 W. York.
KSPH offers to show the film “Fix It” or to give free presentations on single payer. Let us hear from you!
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On Sunday, July 30, 2017, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care celebrated Medicare’s 52nd birthday with cake, great company, and a film at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in Louisville on Portland Avenue. The celebration was one of many across the country that promoted the single payer Medicare model as the solution to the health care crisis.
Christine Perlin and Mary Dunbar headed the committee to organize the event. Kristi Thomas, Doris Bailey Spencer, Harriette Seiler, and others helped. Participants viewed the film, “Fix It–Healthcare at the Tipping Point” and followed up with a discussion period. The magnificent cake was provided by Mary Dunbar.
Medicare, signed into law on July 30, 1965, was implemented within ten months in a time before the digital age, far outpacing the Affordable Care Act which takes effect in stages over a ten year period. Medicare brought care to those over 65, the part of the population that insurers were not eager to cover.
Before Medicare about one half of seniors did not have hospital insurance. Many lived without care, many in poverty.
There are more reasons to celebrate Medicare. Medicare desegregated the nation’s hospitals by making compliance with Title VI a requirement for receiving Medicare funds. In the blink of an eye, decades of barriers based on race fell to a well-designed federal program with economic consequences for those who would not comply.
The gains in access to hospital care for African Americans in Mississippi “coincide with a striking reduction in black post-neonatal death for causes considered preventable with timely hospital care.” Medicare showed what the country could do when the objective was patients rather than profits.
In addition, Medicare pays $9.1 billion a year to teaching hospitals, which goes toward resident salaries and direct teaching costs, as well as the higher operating costs associated with teaching hospitals, which tend to see the sickest and most costly patients.
Over the decades some parts of Medicare expanded to cover the disabled and those suffering from end stage kidney disease. In 2010 it was expanded to cover those in Libby, Montana, suffering from the diseases of asbestos exposure. Medicare has done a lot of good.
Other changes to Medicare were not positive. There were attacks in the guise of improvements. During the Clinton administration in 1997, the Budget Reconciliation Act established “Medicare+Choice,” opening the door to private insurers selling Medicare plans to seniors while pocketing the profits. That door was widened in 2003 when the Medicare Modernization Act established an entirely privatized drug plan and gave additional taxpayer money to the insurers selling privatized plans known as Medicare Advantage.
The drug plan forbids any use of bulk purchasing power to negotiate better drug prices. While the Veterans Administration can use its power to lower drug prices by about 40%, Medicare is barred from doing the same. Billy Tauzin, the sponsor of the Medicare drug plan, went on to work for big Pharma with a million dollar a year job. Seniors continue to struggle with drug costs. The public pays about 14% more for these private Medicare plans while the insurers find the ways to lure seniors in.
Medicare Advantage plans now account for 30% of Medicare recipients. These inferior plans can threaten traditional Medicare solely because they have been able to keep monthly premiums low or zero, attracting the elderly who must keep monthly costs uppermost in mind.
Subsequent legislation allows means testing for Medicare payments and changes in doctor payments in ways that pretend to pay more for greater value but in reality impose massive administrative costs on doctors’ offices. These crude attempts to measure what is not scientifically measurable are cause for concern.
There are further problems. Medicare now covers only about 51% of seniors’ health care costs, leaving them vulnerable to economic hardship, bankruptcy, and going without care. To preserve Medicare we must improve it and expand it to all. That was the promise of Medicare when it was passed and that is the clear solution for today’s healthcare crisis with its soaring costs yet incomplete coverage and care.
Medicare shows by in its single payer structure that it can be improved and expanded to cover the entire nation while bringing costs under control. That is what Congressman John Conyers’ legislation, HR 676 does to assure that every person will be covered for all medically necessary care. Support is growing by leaps and bounds. There are currently 116 cosponsors of HR 676 in the House of Representatives.
A well informed and passionate national movement can change what is politically possible and make universal care a reality by passing HR 676!
On July 29, 2017, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care (KSPH) joined in the Pikeville Rally to demand that every person have the right to care.
“We’re here because we’re human beings and every human being deserves health care,” said Bev May, a Floyd County member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) who emceed the event. “Every life counts, and every life needs health care.”
“What kind of country will we have without a healthy population?” asked Dr. Van Breeding, who practices in Whitesburg. “This is the most important foundation to any country, to have adequate health care.”
Mark McKinley, Jill Harmer, Larry Hovekamp and Dr. Garrett Adams drove from Louisville to participate. Dr. Adams, past President of Physicians for a National Health Program, addressed the crowd with a message of support for single payer, improved Medicare for All. He is in the above photo.
Mark McKinley interviewed a number of participants about their health care needs and their views on single payer health care. Those voices were broadcast on KSPH’s weekly radio show that can be heard in Louisville at 106.5 FM on Wednesdays at 5 pm and Thursdays at 9 am.
A fuller report of the rally can be seen at this KFTC link.
In the photo at right, Jill Harmer and a member of the Steelworkers Union display their views on the backs of their shirts.
A video of the rally can be seen on facebook at this link.
The Louisville KSPH group also visited the Eula Hall Health Clinic. They are pictured below, left to right, Larry Hovekamp, Jill Harmer, and Mark McKinley.
On July 29, 2017, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care rallied with Indivisible and many others at Metro Hall in Louisville to insist that legislators recognize and implement the right of all to health care. KSPH Vice Chair, Edgar Lopez, MD, FACS, and Secretary Harriette Seiler were among the featured speakers. Dr. Lopez, who is bilingual and volunteers many hours at the Free Clinic in Butchertown, is pictured here holding the “Improved-Expanded Medicare for All” sign.
In the days before the rally, the Senate voted narrowly, 51 to 49, against a proposed bill that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act. That Senate bill would have stripped away coverage for millions according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The threat to take away care has galvanized the single payer movement across the country, as many recognize the precarious nature of the gains made and the problems that continue with 28 million still uninsured and many millions more who have insurance but are still unable to afford medicines and care.
Harriette Seiler, below, a former Canadian, brought the message of what single payer health care has meant to her Canadian family and friends. KSPH activist Antonio Wilson, left, faithfully attends every health care rally. Photos by Holley Holland.
“Today my heart is so full. It was so amazing to witness people from the Kentucky and Indiana side come together in the name of the common good. I’m so proud of us!” That was the feeling of Mary Dunbar, RN, about the July 24, 2017, event “Millions Marching for Medicare for All” that took place on the Big Four Bridge between Louisville and Jeffersonville and in cities across the country.
Mary Dunbar was interviewed by the press at the event. She and Kristi Thomas, activists in Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care, organized the Kentucky side of the bridgewalk.
Sunday, July 30, 2017, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
FREE FILM and FREE FOOD.
This is a casual and informative event where you can show your support, ask questions about universal healthcare, watch the film “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point” and just hang out at the beautiful Tim Faulkner gallery, 1512 Portland Ave. Louisville, KY 40203!
Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided, the gallery has a cash bar.
On Monday, June 26, 2017, Karen Armstrong-Cummings of Together Frankfort emceed a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort urging calls to Senators Mitch McConnell (202) 224-2541 and Rand Paul (202) 224-4343 to demand hearings on the McConnell bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Together Frankfort organized the standing room only rally and Indivisible Bluegrass, Our Revolution Central Kentucky, and Together We Will Bluegrass joined them.
Speakers included Dustin Pugel of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy; Robin Rider-Osborne, an advocate for those with mental illness and those on Medicaid; Greg Welch of Together We Will Bluegrass; and Coleman Eldridge, former Assistant to former Governor Steve Beshear.
Beshear is nationally acclaimed for assertively implementing the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, bringing coverage to over half a million people. About 470,000 of those are covered under the expansion of Medicaid. That coverage is now threatened by the Ryan bill that was passed by the House and the McConnell bill that is pending in the Senate.
Kay Tillow of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care was the featured presenter. Armstrong-Cummings explained that Together Frankfort did not want only to oppose bills that are harmful but also to project a positive way forward. Hence single payer was right up front at the rally.
The Northern Kentucky Tribune reported:
Kay Tillow, Director of Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare, said health care costs in the U. S. are about $10,000 per person annually.
“The health care systems of the other industrialized nations average about $5,000 per capita,” Tillow said. “The tragic story is all those countries with half the money are doing better on outcomes.”
While supportive of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” the group say they are in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, which would establish a nationwide single-payer health care system.
Full story: Northern Kentucky Tribune.
Following the rally the group walked to the Republican headquarters to deliver the message to save healthcare and promote single payer. KSPH Steering Committee member Jill Harmer was among the marchers.
The rotunda statue of Roosevelt’s VP, Alben Barkley of Paducah, sported a single payer, HR 676, Improved Medicare for All sign as well, and Christine Perlin stood by Abraham Lincoln.
There are many more photos on the Together Frankfort facebook page.
Ending the rally, Coleman Eldridge brought the crowd to their feet by asserting that “Health care is a right, not a privilege. This is a matter of moral right and wrong… If we can put a man on the moon, we can ensure that millions of Americans and Kentuckians have access to affordable health care.”
On May 24, 2017, eight current congresspersons participated in the Rep. John Conyers’ press conference to celebrate the 111 cosponsors and the growing public support for HR 676, improved Medicare for All. The 111th cosponsor is Rep. Joe Crowley, NY, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. There are 193 Democrats in Congress, so the vast majority of them are now supporting this single payer legislation. Before the day was over, Texas Rep. Marc Veasey also signed on, bringing the total to 112.
Congressman Conyers spoke with renewed confidence as he told of the wild popularity of Medicare for All in town hall meetings across the country. “For years people have said, including people who support single payer,that it’s not time yet, that Medicare for All will have to wait,” said Conyers. “Well, Dr. Martin Luther King said that ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never.’ We’re here to say that we’re done waiting. It’s time now, Medicare for All,” Conyers stated.
“We will never get universal care building on the foundation of private for-profit insurance. The only way we will get there is the way every other advanced country on the planet has, through a universal system like expanded Medicare for All,” Conyers concluded.
Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland told of his very positive experience with the French health care system.
Congressman Ro Khanna of California said that he represents Silicon Valley and that those high tech start ups suffer great pressures to outsource jobs because of the high cost of health care.
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said that the 25 best paid hedge fund managers in the U. S. earn, as a collective, 11 billion dollars a year while at the same time over 20 million Americans do not have health care. “I refuse to believe that in this great nation we cannot provide health care for all,” she said.
After reporting massive cheering for Medicare for All in town halls across Wisconsin, Congressman Mark Pocan said, “I recently did a Town Hall in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in Paul Ryan’s district. If the Republicans aren’t going to do Town Halls, we’re going to do Town Halls. And again, in his district, the largest response of the Town Hall was when we get to the subject of Medicare for All. So let’s face it, the people are there, the people are leading.”
Congresspersons Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Peter Welch of Vermont, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota also spoke.
National Nurses United CoPresident Jeanne Ross, RN, said “Registered Nurses do not give up on our patients and we will not relent until we win Medicare for All.”
Phil Verhoef, MD, PhD, an ICU physician with Physicians for a National Health Program cited recent research that places the U. S. health system 80th out of 195 countries and by far the worst of the wealthy countries. He declared our system critically ill and said “But we have a solution, we have a therapy for this critically ill patient, our health care system, and that is HR 676, improved and expanded Medicare for All.”
All of the speakers had much more to say. They were passionate and upbeat, sometimes profound and on offense. There is a transcript of their remarks at this website.
Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care is pleased to announce that discussions of single payer, improved Medicare for All, can be heard on Forward Radio on each Wednesday at 5 pm and Thursday at 9 am at 106.5 FM. The transmitter is atop the Heyburn Building and the station can be heard throughout the city and even further on your car radio.
FORward Radio is a community-based, low power FM radio start-up and media project operating as an educational arm of the Louisville chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in pursuit of peace and social justice.
We are grateful to the Fellowship of Reconciliation and to Mark McKinley, KSPH Steering Committee Member, who have struggled over many years to create this new instrument of communication.
If you are interested in telling your health care story on the radio, please contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harriette Seiler, Tom Moffett, Dr. Barbara Casper, Charlie Casper, Jill Harmer, Dave MacCool, Kay Tillow, Dr. Garrett Adams, are among those who have already been featured on the Single Payer Program.