Health care cost cure: single payer

Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, a leading Kentucky advocate for transparency in health-care costs and  outcomes, writes in a recent commentary that Medicare-for-all might be the solution to our financing woes.

I support going to a single-not-for-profit payer system and eliminating for-profit health insurance companies. These unneeded middlemen must be eliminated if health care costs are to be controlled.

Ewell Scott, MD
Ewell Scott, MD

Twenty percent to 30 percent of the premium dollar goes for their profits and overhead.

A single-payer system could do it for 3 percent overhead — what our single-payer system for seniors does now. The Affordable Care Act (a misnomer if there ever was one) merely forces us to buy a private, inefficient, expensive product.

I am thankful for Gov. Steve Beshear’s Medicaid expansion, but his reliance on private (for the most part) companies to “manage” (read: “deny”) health care is robbing hospitals and other providers of rightful compensation and merely increasing the private companies’ profits.

Anthem, an Indiana-based insurer, recently announced record profits, which leave our rural facilities teetering on the brink of insolvency.

One only has to look at Auditor Adam Edelen’s recent in-depth report for verification of their poor financial health. Our people deserve better. It can be done. Medicare for all. Easy.

Ewell G. Scott, M.D.


Letter in the Herald Leader.

Single Payer in the Louisville MS Walk

On Saturday, May 30, 2015, KSPH activists distributed 600 flyers on single payer as they participated in the Louisville MS Walk.  The tiny, hot pink leaflet stated:

Forward to single payer health care

Drugs crucial for MS patients, originally costing $8,000 to $11,000, now cost about $60,000 per year.

While health care reform helped some, many still find essential drugs too costly or not on the formulary.Kay Tillow & Jill Harmer at MS Walk, Louisville, May 30, 2015

Last July, 300 patient advocacy groups protested to Health & Human Services that those with chronic illnesses still face 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 learn more.  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 free presentations on single payer.  Further info:

(502) 636-1551

At right, Kay Tillow and Jim Harmer at the MS Walk.

Hold the Date: Thur. July 30, 2015, Medicare 50th Birthday Celebration

KSPH is planning an event to celebrate Medicare’s 50th Birthday on Thursday. July 30, 2015.

Come to the KSPH meetings and be a part of making it happen!  The next meetings are Thursdays, June 4th and June 18th, 5:30 pm, Board Rm on the Mezzanine, Louisville Free Public Library, 301 York St.


At a single payer meeting are (L to R) Jill Harmer, Antonio Wilson, and Harriette Seiler.

Rep. Conyers Introduces HR 676, National Single Payer Health Care

Single Payer Health Care Back on the National Agenda

On February 3, 2015, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, pictured below, introduced HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, into the 114th Congress. He was joined by 44 initial cosponsors including Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky. Since then four additional representatives have signed on, Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, Zoe Lofgren of California, Joyce Beatty of Ohio, and Ted Lieu of California bringing the number up to 48.

You can see all the cosponsors of HR 676 here.

You can read HR 676 here.


Conyers’ Press Release on HR 676

PNHP News Release

America’s New Single Payer Majority by Rep. John Conyers

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19, 2015, Louisville

 photo KSPH in caravan honoring. Dr. Martin Luther King

On January 19, 2015, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care participated in the caravan celebrating the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo by Ron Hargrove.

Also on the King Holiday, members of KSPH took part in a celebration at Shawnee Presbyterian Church, 101 South 44th Street, Louisville, KY. The Rev. Ron Robinson, Shawnee’s pastor, serves on the steering committee of KSPH. Sponsored jointly by the church and the group Sowers of Justice, the service and workshops commemorated Dr. King’s call for non-violence, equality, and economic equity.

Garrett Adams, MD, led a health care workshop, stressing the need for a single payer system that would cover all medically necessary care for everyone in our country. There is a bill in Congress, HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, that would provide such coverage–cutting costs, reducing disparities and saving lives.

Workshop attendees shared insights and personal health care stories, agreeing that the current system remains inadequate. They indicated a wish to know more about single payer and suggested we continue our efforts to educate the public. In 1966, Dr. King referred to injustice in health care as “shocking and inhuman.” In 2015, he would undoubtedly remind us that there is still much work to be done.

U of L Medical Students Hold White Coat Die In

The Louisville Student protest was one of 70 across the nation.

Photo of medical students at UC Davis

Photo of medical students at UC Davis

The nationwide protest was initiated by medical students in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and Physicians for a National Health Program assisted them with the publicity.

The story was covered by the Guardian, Huffington Post, and Rachel Maddow.

The action was endorsed by Students for a National Health Program, the student affiliate of PNHP.

Christy Duan wrote about why she participated in the protest.

Here’s one panorama of the actions on more than 70 medical school campuses.

 photo Medical Students at UC Irvine

Medical Students at UC Irvine

Medicare for Everyone

 photo Harriette Seiler, at right, with Nan Goheen at the 2009 sit in at Humana

Harriette Seiler, at right, with Nan Goheen at the 2009 sit in at Humana as part of nationwide actions seeking to place single payer into the health care debate. Harriette’s current letter printed in the Courier-Journal is below.

Nov. 20, 2014, Courier-Journal

Most Kentuckians are pleased that health care coverage has been expanded in our state, but there are questions to be considered.

Are the managed care organizations (MCOs) that oversee Medicaid providing quality treatment and follow-up — including prescribed medications for the mentally ill? MCOs profit by reducing costs and, bluntly stated, cost-cutting strategies often involve cutting care.

Persons who bought private plans (gold, silver, etc.) on the Kynect exchange last year must now re-enroll for 2015. Before buying, enrollees should read the policy carefully: Can you see your preferred doctor? How narrow is the hospital network? How high is the deductible? If you had to pay out of your own pocket for treatment, would that keep you from going for help when you have worrisome symptoms? If you have a chronic disease, check the drug formularies: Is your medication listed? Has the co-pay gone up?

As we ponder all these critical issues, the people in other advanced nations are happily going about their day because their leaders had sense enough to implement a single-payer system —saving money for their country and for each individual. Instead of all the political and judicial machinations now going on across the U.S., let’s just tell Congress to pass HR 676. Simply improve traditional Medicare and give it to everybody!


Louisville Single Payer Activists Volunteer

Louisville Single Payer Activists Volunteer for RAM Free Clinic in Morehead, Oct. 25-26, 2014

The line snaked through the pre-dawn darkness of a church parking lot. Hundreds, many wrapped in blankets against the chill, awaited the opportunity to see a dentist or doctor or to get a pair of glasses, all without any cost or questions. Their presence, in spite of Kentucky’s successful sign up of more than 500,000 in the exchanges, bore witness to the continuing unmet health care needs and the necessity to move the nation forward to single payer.

This was the October 25-26, 2014, Free Clinic, one of many that Remote Area Medical regularly sponsors in Appalachia and across the country.

“Wow, it looks like 3D,” exclaimed a young woman who peered through her new glasses for the first time. Check out RAM on The Daily Show.

 photo Louisville Single Payer Activists Volunteer for RAM Free Clinic in Morehead

Volunteers L to R: Kay Tillow, Louisville; Afeni Henderson, RN, Knoxville; Kathryn Hunt, Physical Therapist, Lexington; Lane Adams, Louisville; Garrett Adams, MD, Louisville; Harriette Seiler, Louisville. The Louisville participants are activists in Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care.

Garrett Adams, MD, Lectures at Sewanee

On October 15, 2014, Dr. Garrett Adams, Medical Director of the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic and immediate past president of Physicians for a National Health Program, gave a lecture at Sewanee: The University of the South.

Dr. Adams’ lecture addresses the plight of America’s medically under-served, especially in Appalachia, how America’s wealth inequality affects the nation’s health and society, and the positive effects a publicly funded national health program could have on our society as well as our national health. Video.