Letters published in the Courier-Journal

Courier-Journal

March 3, 2020

 

We can provide health care for all

 

Would you rather have your life and death medical decisions made by a “nameless bureaucrat” or in a boardroom in New York city?   Having worked for many years for our government, I can assure you that the vast majority of government workers are motivated by the desire to do a good job and to provide a decent living for their family.  They are not motivated by the need to siphon off millions of dollars from the healthcare industry to enrich their fellow board members and stockholders.  These “nameless bureaucrats” do indeed have names and are responsible hard-working people trying to help with the mission their agency has been assigned.  They are held accountable when they make mistakes and not given a golden parachute to go away.  If all of our government workers and politicians are just lazy crooks, just what makes our country so great?

 

The insurance companies do not add any value to our health care.  We can get along just fine without them.  Our own Medicare, Medicaid and VA have proven this.  Look at all of the other industrialized countries in the world that do just fine with government-run health care systems.  If these other countries can afford to provide healthcare to all of its citizens, then surely the wealthiest country to have ever existed could also.

 

Gary Hagan, Shepherdsville, KY 40165

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Letter writer wrong about “Medicare for all”

Harriette Seiler, Secretary, Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care

 

I respectfully disagree with the views expressed by E. W. Hoelscher in his letter published in The Courier Journal’s Community Forum.  In opposing Sen. Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, it appears Mr. Hoelscher was confusing Bernie’s plan with the British National Health System (NHS), where doctors and hospital workers are employed by the government.  The NHS is a true socialist system.  Under Bernie’s proposal, physicians would not work for the government.  They would operate their own practices, and their fees for service would be reimbursed and processed through the government—as is now the case for traditional Medicare.  Nor would hospitals be expropriated; they would operate as they do now but be paid through the single-payer financing system, rather than by way of costly middlemen.  It is true that “Bernie and friends” oppose the private insurance companies who pay their CEOs outrageous salaries and add billions to the costs of U. S. health care.

Harriette Seiler, Louisville, 40207

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Courier-Journal Letter

March 11, 2020

Distortions about single-payer healthcare

Not surprising, the single-payer, Medicare for All alternative to our current healthcare mess is being heaped with distortions and outright false information.  Witness two recent letters to the editor in The Courier Journal.

Charlie Casper, Dr. Barbara Casper, and Dr. Garrett Adams at the Grand Rounds.
Charlie Casper, Dr. Barbara Casper, and Dr. Garrett Adams at the Grand Rounds.

One writer says businesses will be the big winner with Medicare for All.  Partially correct.  They will definitely save money, but they will pay their fair share, just like employees.  Eliminate premiums, deductibles and co-pays, and workers are the big winners, not employers.

The second writer claims the federal government will expropriate all hospitals and clinics if Medicare for All is adopted, and everyone will be working for the government.  Not true.  Hospitals and clinics would continue to be privately owned and operated.  No different than the current Medicare program.

When the profit and overhead of insurance companies and hospitals amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars, and drug prices will be lowered due to negotiation, the savings are huge under Medicare for All.  Savings will go to patient care and everyone will be covered.

And rest assured, Medicare for All will be sustainable long term, since Congress will be included in the plan, just like each of us, a sure-fire way to make sure funding is preserved.

 

Charlie Casper, Louisville, 40207

End Medigap discrimination for pre-existing conditions. Support HB 445

State Representative Tom Burch has introduced HB 445 which would end the ability of Medigap plans to charge higher rates or deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.  The legislation is needed because seniors in Kentucky who purchase Medicare Advantage but later seek to return to traditional Medicare and purchase a Medigap plan are no longer protected from underwriting.

 

Tom Moffett at a Louisville demonstration for single payer health care.
Tom Moffett at a Louisville demonstration for single payer health care.

Such persons with pre-existing conditions can be charged sky high prices, or denied entirely, a supplementary Medigap plan.  The problem is discussed in Medpage Today.

 

There are only four states where there is some protection against discrimination for pre-existing conditions under these circumstances.  This article from Kaiser Family Foundation explains.

 

Republicans, Democrats and independents are all opposed to charging outrageous rates or refusing to sell policies to people because they are, or have been, sick.  The practice is clearly inhumane, and Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care asks all legislators to join with us in banning Medigap discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

 

Take Action!

Please call your representative and ask her or him to co-sponsor and support HB 445 so that we can end this injustice to seniors in Kentucky.

You can find your state representative here or here. 

Leave a message for your representative here:  1-800-372-7181

These are the representatives who are sponsoring HB 445:  T. Burch, T. Bojanowski, J. Donohue, C. Miller, P. Minter, J. Raymond, A. Scott, L. Willner

 

Currently there are massive ad campaigns to entice seniors to purchase Medicare Advantage plans by offering additional benefits and lower or no monthly premiums.  Such offers are compelling for Kentucky’s many seniors with fixed incomes and tight monthly budgets.

 

What the ads do not say is that for-profit Medicare Advantage plans place limits on which physicians you can see and which hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes you can use.  These private plans can also charge co-pays, drop physicians from their networks, and charge large payments for drugs.

 

The limitations of the Medicare Advantage plans only become apparent when a patient is sick and has to use the plan.  When seniors initially become eligible for Medicare, they are protected against discrimination for pre-existing conditions in the purchase of a “Medigap” plan to supplement traditional Medicare.  But those who purchase a Medicare Advantage plan and later seek to return to traditional Medicare will find that protection no longer applies.

 

In addition to the disadvantages brought to seniors by the Medicare Advantage plans, these plans also overbill the government by billions each year in a money grab that diverts Medicare money from health care into the pockets of the insurance companies.  By 2012 the diversion of Medicare funds to private companies had already cost Medicare over $282 billion, and it is projected that the overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurers will amount to $200 billion over the next decade.

 

Speaking on behalf of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care, Dr. Garrett Adams stated that Rep. Tom Burch’s bill to end discrimination by Medigap plans on the basis of pre-existing conditions has strong public backing.  He added that the longer term solution must be the enactment of a national, improved Medicare for All plan that will finally cover everyone through a not-for-profit single payer system.  “Such a plan will end the waste caused by profits, free everyone to choose their own doctors, end discrimination for pre-existing conditions and remove all financial barriers to care,” Dr. Adams said.

 

 

 

The Future of Healthcare: Single Payer & Its Alternatives

Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 6:00 pm

U of L Chao Auditorium

Ekstrom Library

2115 S. 3rd St., Louisville 40208

 

Ed Weisbart MD, CPE. FAAFP
Ed Weisbart, MD, CPE. FAAFP

Come hear Ed Weisbart, MD, CPE, FAAFP, chair of the Missouri chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, and Thomas P. Miller, JD, healthcare policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, discuss the future of the American healthcare system.

Weisbart is an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. He volunteers in a variety of safety net clinics and other non-profits across the St. Louis area.  He is an advocate for improved Medicare for All—a national single payer healthcare system—and has been widely published in national medical journals and local media outlets.

Miller is a former senior health economist for the Joint Economic Committee in Congress and previously worked as a trial attorney, journalist and sports broadcaster. He is the co-author of the bestseller “Why Obamacare Is Wrong for America” (HarperCollins, 2011), an in-depth examination of the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

 

This free event is co-sponsored by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center and the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. Seating is available on a first-come basis. No RSVP required.

Recommended pay parking in the Speed Art Museum Garage.

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In addition, Antonio Wickliffe, Bob Cunningham, The Rev. Ron Robinson and Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care  have arranged for Dr. Weisbart to speak on “Medicare for All:  Healing Racial Health Inequities”

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020

12 Noon

West Chestnut Street Baptist Church

1725 W. Chestnut St.

A light lunch prepared by “Sweet Peaches” will be provided.
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The following day, Dr. Weisbart will speak at the U of L School of Medicine sponsored by the U of L Chapter of Students for a National Health Program:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

9:30 am

Instructional Building Room 102

500 S. Preston St. Louisville, KY 40202

Garrett Adams, MD, MPH, honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression honored Dr. Garrett Adams with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership in the single payer/improved Medicare for All movement.  The award was presented on December 7, 2019, at the 22nd Annual Alliance Unity Dinner celebrating the 45th year since the founding of the Alliance.

Dr. Garrett Adams at the Unity Dinner with his wife Lane, son Burt, and daughter Carrie Irwin.
Dr. Garrett Adams at the Unity Dinner with his wife Lane, son Burt, and daughter Carrie Irwin.

Dr. Adams was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he was recognized as a Distinguished Lecturer.

He completed pediatric residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Colorado.

He has a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health by whom he was recently recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

 

In 2014 he was the Granger Lecturer at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine.

He is retired from the full-time faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine where he was Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Medical Director of Communicable Diseases at the Louisville Metro Health Department.

Dr. Garrett Adams and Channelle Helm at the Unity Dinner
Dr. Garrett Adams and Chanelle Helm at the Unity Dinner

During his forty-year career he attended the health care needs of sick children and their young families. He witnessed deterioration in health care access and health care delivery in the United States and now works for health care reform as a member of Physicians for a National Health Program (www.PNHP.org). He is a founding member of PNHP-Kentucky (www.kyhealthcare.org), a member of the national Board of PNHP, and was national President of PNHP 2010-2012.

 

He is the founder (2010) and Medical Director of the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic, Beersheba Springs, Tennessee, a not-for-profit, volunteer clinic in the Cumberland mountains of Tennessee (www.beershebaclinic.org).

 

Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care Ad in the Unity Dinner Journal
Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care Ad in the Unity Dinner Journal

 

 

In 2011 he testified to the U.S. Senate on “Is Poverty a Death Sentence”, based on his experience in Appalachia.

 

Congratulations, Dr. Adams, from all of us at Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care!

 

 

Thanks to Carrie Irwin for the photos.

Professor Gerald Friedman makes “The Economic Case for Medicare for All”

Karen Krigger, MD, Family and Geriatric Medicine
Karen Krigger, MD, Family and Geriatric Medicine

(Video of event by Stephen Mattingly is here.)

On October 24, 2019, at 7 pm, economist Gerald Friedman presented the Economic Case for Medicare for All to a full house at the Unitarian Church on 4th street in downtown Louisville.

 

Dr. Karen Krigger, who practices Family and Geriatric Medicine in Louisville, opened the program with remarks about the current crises in health care in Louisville.

 

Kentuckians came from as far away as Richmond to hear Dr. Friedman.

 

Dr. Garrett Adams, pediatrician and past president of the Physicians for a National Health Program, introduced Friedman who earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard and currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

 

A part of the audience at the Unitarian Church
A part of the audience at the Unitarian Church

Dr. Friedman is an expert on the financing of single payer health care systems.   He studied HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All legislation, introduced in the House by Congressman John Conyers.

He found that over $500 billion could be saved each year by switching to this single payer program.

Dr. Friedman’s presentation gave compelling evidence that people in the United States are victims of an inferior health care system that brings suffering and early death to those who do not have the ability to pay the high cost of care.

Garrett Adams, MD, founder of Phaysicians for a National Health Program--Kentucky, introduces Professor Gerald Friedman
Garrett Adams, MD, founder of Physicians for a National Health Program–Kentucky, introduces Professor Gerald Friedman

He presented evidence that the U. S. spends more than twice, per capita, on health care as the other wealthy countries yet has poorer outcomes in life expectancy and other measures of quality.

He showed that, contrary to insurance company claims, additional funds spent on care produce improved outcomes and longevity.  He gave the figures that prove that co-pays and deductibles and the high cost of drugs are causing irreparable harm to Americans.

His studies show that one-third of Americans are going without necessary care because of the high costs even for those who have health insurance plans.

He gave compelling evidence that a national single payer health care system, an improved Medicare for All, would save money yet improve care for those who now have insurance and extend those benefits to the 3o million who have been left without coverage despite the gains of the Affordable Care Act.

The program can be seen on the Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care facebook page, thanks to medical student Sarah Parker.

https://www.facebook.com/KSPHmed4all/videos/2334827763293174/

Gerald Friedman, PhD, Professor of Economics at U Mass, Amherst
Gerald Friedman, PhD, Professor of Economics at U Mass, Amherst

Professor Gerald Friedman presents the Economic Case for Medicare for All to physicians at two grand rounds

 

Friedman was given a Louisville slugger bat to honor his Louisville presentation.
Friedman was given a Louisville slugger bat to honor his Louisville presentation.

On Thursday, October 24, 2019, economics Professor Gerald Friedman spoke on what Medicare for All would mean for physicians.  The Grand Rounds was sponsored by the University of Louisville Department of Medicine.  The program took place in the Ambulatory Care Building at University of Louisville Hospital.  A video is available here.

On Friday, October 25, 2019, Dr. Friedman addressed the  Grand Rounds of the University of Louisville Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine.   This event was at Jewish Hospital in Bottigheimer Auditorium.

 

 

Slide showing that the US is the outlier--paying more for health care than other nations yet lagging behind in life expectancy
Slide showing that the US is the outlier–paying more for health care than other nations yet lagging behind in life expectancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. Gerald Friedman addresses the health care issues of the African-American Community

 

L to R: Professor Gerald Friedman and the Rev. Ron Robinson
L to R: Professor Gerald Friedman and the Rev. Ron Robinson

At noon on October 24, 2019, Professor Gerald Friedman spoke at the West Chestnut Street Baptist Church on the topic “Medicare for All means health equity for all.”

Following a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Rev. Ron Robinson, Dr. Garrett Adams, and Bob Cunningham made opening remarks.

Professor Friedman gave a power point presentation and answered questions from the audience.  Friedman said that the nation must provide care to all through a single payer system that removes the profits of the insurance companies and ends co-pays and deductibles so that no one goes without care because of inability to pay.  He said that health care is a human right.

Cornelia Oldham made a video of the event and graciously shared it.  It can be viewed here.

Professor Gerald Friedman, the Rev. Ron Robinson, Dr. Garrett Adams
Professor Gerald Friedman, the Rev. Ron Robinson, Dr. Garrett Adams

 

The program was organized by Antonio Wickliffe, Bob Cunningham, and the Rev. Ron Robinson and sponsored by Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care.  Refreshments were catered by Sweet Peaches.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke frequently at the West Chestnut Street Baptist Church which was deeply involved in the civil rights struggle in Louisville.

Bob Cunningham
Bob Cunningham
Professor of Economics Gerald Friedman
Professor of Economics Gerald Friedman