With the public support for a national single payer system remaining strong and the need greater than ever, why is the movement stalled? What are the key sources of our power? Who are our allies? What can we do and how do we focus our energies to build the power necessary to end profiteering and make health care free at the point of service? More than a decade after the misnamed Affordable Care Act, (ACA) we still have tens of millions without any coverage while millions more are saddled with high deductible, narrow network “junk health insurance” plans. The pandemic exposed the USA’s bankrupt for-profit privatized “healthcare system.”
As legislation for national single payer health care, an Improved Medicare for All, has not yet been introduced into the current Congress, now is the time to work to make that bill what it must be to solve the nation’s health care crisis. We thank you for your past sponsorship of national single payer. We urge you to work to assure that the upcoming legislation is based on sound policy so that, when implemented, it will bring excellent care to all as it frees our health care from the corporate control and profits that have made it so cruel and expensive. Then we urge you to sponsor, speak boldly, and stand up for a national single payer, not-for-profit, publicly-funded health care system, because nothing less can bring efficient, humane, compassionate care to everyone in our county.
Why is the U.S. an outlier with regard to health care? What keeps the country from adopting a universal health care system, which most Americans have supported for many years now? And what exactly is Medicare for All? On the eve of scheduled marches and rallies in support of Medicare for All, led by various organizations such as the Sunrise Movement, Physicians for a National Health Program, the Democratic Socialists of America and concerned citizens throughout the country, the interview below with Peter S. Arno, a leading health expert, sheds light on some key questions about the state of health care in the United States.
We will begin at 11 AM in the park in front of the Federal Building where we have permission from the city to use the site. We will have speakers (brief) and music then march and/or caravan to Breewayy, the square at 6th between Liberty and Jefferson. There we will place flowers in honor of Breonna Taylor, to connect with her profession as a healer, and to link the struggle for health care with the fight to end systemic racism. We will return to where we began and share refreshments and socialize. We will also be celebrating Medicare’s 56th birthday. We hope you will join with us in demanding that Congress take action by passing a national single payer, improved Medicare for All plan. Such a plan would end the tragic denial of care that causes so much suffering and unnecessary loss of life.
In 2021 the U.S. healthcare crisis has, again, reached a boiling point. It was already simmering in 2019 when the number of uninsured grew to 33 million. Covid then triggered a job crisis that added anywhere from 15 to 27 million to the ranks of the uninsured. The still-growing job crisis has pushed the number of uninsured near or beyond the 49 million uninsured that existed prior to Obamacare, whose goal was “universal healthcare.” It’s no surprise then that Medicare For All emerged, pre-Covid, as the most popular policy during the Presidential Democratic primaries. But after the Democratic Party organized, once again, to crush Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Biden tried to push discourse away from Medicare For All with plans to “improve Obamacare” a goal as ambitious as “patching up the Hindenburg.”
Suzanne Gordon, a longtime health care reporter and author of Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans, says the VA “outperforms the private sector with one hand tied behind its back.” The VA delivers health care to around nine million veterans each year at more than 1,200 sites across the country. In Wounds of War, Gordon described the VA as resembling “the health care systems of almost all other industrialized nations: a full-service health care system that both pays for and delivers all types of care to those it serves.” The VA’s health care providers are salaried, rather than paid by the service, meaning they can actually spend time with their patients, and its integrated system cares for the whole patient, from when they leave the military to end-of-life care. This makes the VA uniquely invested in keeping its patients well.
Public Health Experts: Single-Payer Systems Coping With Coronavirus More Effectively Than For-Profit Model
As the coronavirus pandemic places extraordinary strain on national healthcare systems around the world, public health experts are making the case that countries with universal single-payer systems have thus far responded more efficiently and effectively to the outbreak than nations like the United States...
The Census released its annual income, poverty, and health insurance statistics earlier this week. The summary report shows that 8 million of the nation’s 42.5 million poor people would not be poor if they did not have to pay medical out-of-pocket (MOOP) expenses like deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and self-payments. Medicare for All (M4A) virtually eliminates these kinds of payments, meaning that these 8 million people (18.8 percent of all poor people) would find themselves lifted over the poverty threshold if M4A were enacted. This headcount poverty measure actually understates how significant MOOP expenses are to poverty in this country. According to this same data, in 2018, the total poverty gap stood at $175.8 billion.
Our highways are crumbling. Our trains, where they exist, are failing. Our sewer systems are disintegrating. So, too, is the health infrastructure of America. Under decades of for-profit domination, it has healed only some of us, while leaving the wounded rest behind. Those of us who are yet cared for know we’re just a snap of a thread we can’t see from falling and being lost. Our neighborhoods have been made unsafe; our water has been made poisonous; we are hostages, trapped in our own bodies, to the billing departments of American healthcare.
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report on May 1, 2019 titled "Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System." This report reviews a range of considerations as regards the design and implementation of a single- payer system as applied to the United States. The CBO report, as with all such analyses, needs to address two fundamental issues with respect to the establishment of a single-payer system for the U.S. These are: 1) Is a single-payer system capable of providing good-quality care to all U.S. residents; and 2) Is a single-payer system capable of significantly reducing overall U.S. health care costs while still delivering universal good-quality care? The report does not provide explicit answers, yes or no, to these questions. But it does present a framework for understanding how the U.S. could, in fact, establish a successful single-payer system.
Here’s a reminder of the disastrous state of American healthcare. It was a big week for Medicare for All. The House Rules Committee held its first-ever congressional hearing to discuss U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act of 2019, and the Congressional Budget Office will release a report addressing many of the key questions about single-payer healthcare. This discussion couldn't come soon enough. Here's a statistical snapshot of the gravity of America's current healthcare crisis.
Above Photo: GABRIEL OLSEN VIA GETTY IMAGES. Ady Barkan (center) attends the Los Angeles Supports a Dream Act Now! protest with actress
WASHINGTON ― It’s supposed to be the first congressional hearing ever on “Medicare for All” ― a huge win for single-payer advocates and progressives in Congress. But next week, when the House Rules Committee holds that landmark hearing on the expansive health care legislation, Medicare for All advocates may actually be getting screwed. There are four people testifying for Democrats: Sara Collins from the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund; Dr. Doris Browne, the former president of the National Medical Association; Dr. Farzon Nahvi, an emergency physician and professor in New York City; and Dean Baker, the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Twice, my Republican mother has almost died from a lack of affordable health care, but she still hates the idea of a single-payer system. The first time she almost died she was at age 21. Her appendix ruptured because she’d put off seeing a doctor until she could get insurance from, ironically, the insurance company she’d just started working for because she wanted health insurance. (Dad didn’t get insurance through his employer at the time.) The health insurance didn’t kick in for three months, so she put off going to the doctor until her appendix had ruptured and sprayed infected tissue everywhere.