News & Opinion

PBS Report Shows Universal Health Care Systems Working Abroad

A "Frontline" report on PBS examines the universal health care plans of five countries--Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland--and shows that in each country "insurance premiums are significantly lower than those in America (in Britain there are none), and the waiting time to see a doctor is either tolerable (in Britain) or nonexistent," reports the New York Times.

Private Card Huge Deductible

Don't be fooled by all the politicians claiming to support "universal" health care. If you read the fine print, most of their proposals dictate that everyone should buy a private health care card. What good is your card if it commits you to a $5,000 deductible and 50 percent co-pay before you receive any of your (limited) benefits?

We should reject a mandate that everyone must contribute to the coffers of the big insurance corporations. No, thanks. That sort of "universal" plan could mainly bankrupt the middle class and further enrich the private insurance manipulators.

We need a universal plan that is compassionate and sustainable.

The clearest way is to eliminate the role of for-profit insurance companies.Having been practicing medicine for 35 years, after seeing "Sicko" I'm convinced we need (and will eventually demand) a single payer, universal, health insurance system.

Thanks, Michael Moore, for pointing the way.

Kahn is emeritus professor of family and preventive medicine at Emory University School of Medicine

Photo Diary of Dave Pavlick's Walk for Healthcare Justice

Warm Welome Home

In July of 2006, Dave Pavlick, a dedicated SPAN supporter based in Cleveland, decided to use his four weeks of vacation to hike across the state to call attention to the plight of the uninsured and underinsured and to publicize and win support for SPAN's campaign to put single-payer health care on the ballot in Ohio. Dave completed his grueling 23-day walk on July 27 at 7:00 p.m. on the steps of Cleveland City Hall, 601 Lakeside Avenue.  The Walk was a complete success, raising awareness of the issue and support from people across the state. Click here to see some of the press coverage Dave got.

Why we say that single-payer is good for business as well as the rest of us

Honeywell locks out USW Local in Illinois over health care — sister Local in Canada wins contract with no problem; everyone there Is covered under Canada’s single-payer plan

On June 28, 2010, Honeywell locked out the 230 union workers at its uranium hexafluoride plant in Metropolis, an Ohio River town of 6,500 at the tip of southern Illinois 400 miles south of Chicago. A working class town nestled amidst the corn, soybean and wheat fields, Metropolis is known for its Superman statue on the court house square where most Illinois candidates, including Barack Obama, have stopped by for a photo op.

Honeywell didn’t care if the workers liked their health care plan. This corporation said it was not going to let them keep it. The members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669 refused to accept the company proposal to increase workers’ out of pocket health care maximum to $8,500 a year and to end retiree health coverage. The union proposed to continue working as they bargained. Honeywell said no and locked the doors.

USW 7-669’s sister local in Canada signed their current contract in July 2010, and health care coverage did not present a problem. “Bargaining was not particularly difficult this time around,” said Chris Leavitt, President of USW Local 13173 in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, home of the Cameco plant, the only other one in North America to make the uranium hexafluoride used to produce nuclear energy. Canadian USW Local 13173 is about the same size as the Metropolis local and was a part of District 50 of the United Mine Workers which affiliated with the USW.

Everyone is covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan—automatically–as a part of Canada’s Medicare, a single payer plan, explains Leavitt. Members of Local 13173 and their families pay nothing—no premium, no co-pay, no co-insurance, no deductible–for hospital care plus medication, out patient services, doctor’s visits, and other doctors’ services such as surgery. Health care is publicly funded for everyone so unions can use their bargaining power to negotiate for wages and other benefits. Read full article.

Democrats Block California Single-Payer Bill

September 1, 2010

By Don McCanne

Speaker John Perez of the California State Assembly, on the very last day of the legislative session, pulled SB 810, the single payer bill, from the Assembly floor.

This highly unusual move of pulling a bill that had cleared all legislative hurdles except for the final Assembly floor vote was to protect Democrats from having to cast a health care reform vote in a difficult political environment three months before the next election.

Democrats feared a backlash from those who are opposed to the recently enacted federal health care legislation should they vote for the bill, and they feared offending their progressive base should they vote against the bill. Since a veto by Gov. Schwarzenegger was a given, it was decided that it would be safer to avoid the political risks by simply pulling the bill.

But did they really avoid that risk? Are the single payer advocates expendable? Don't think so.

Fortunately, Senator Mark Leno is not to be deterred. He has vowed to reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session which begins in January.

The Democrats are worried about their political base, but maybe that's not the framing we should be looking at. Perhaps the single payer advocates should be reassessing their own base instead.

Not all Democrats have been supportive of single payer, and several Republicans who are not part of the prevailing lock-step bloc do understand the benefits of the single payer model. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is proof that we can't rely on the Democrats to do the right thing. Most importantly, everyone understands the benefits of Medicare as a social insurance program (even if there is a fringe reactionary element that would emasculate it).

The Tea Party is proving that passionate voices can be heard. Maybe we can learn from them, though our message should contain more than simple platitudes. Our message needs to convey the principled substance of health care justice, and it needs to be loud, clear and highly infectious.


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