In a plan revealed November 13th, less than a week after the historic election of a new Congress, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) called for more hundreds of billions of dollars to be provided by the federal government to pay for the uninsured – and to pay for them in ways that would continue to line their own pockets.  They call it “Hope for Millions.”

 

Here are some of the questions that were not addressed.  Why would the insurance companies who are raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in excess profits and basically standing in the way of a national non-profit healthcare program for all create a new plan to cover the uninsured?  Why haven’t they done it before?  What do they stand to gain?  What do they stand to lose?

 

The follow-up story should explore the fact that a national healthcare program is the number one domestic priority of the voters.  According to some statistics, 83% of the people want such a program and recognize that we are the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have such a program.  People expect Congress to take decisive action to provide a national healthcare system.

 

Most of the people want such a program because the healthcare crisis isn’t primarily about the uninsured. We are all close to being uninsured, and even when we are insured we face the growing costs of insurance policies, the co-pays and deductibles, the potential of losing our job, and worst of all, the fact that insurance companies cancel insurance policies when people get really sick.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Reporters ought to talk with Congressman John Conyers whose bill, the United States National Health Insurance Act, H.R. 676, was introduced during the last Congress and has 78 co-sponsors on it.   There is a growing constituency of millions of people who understand and support this bill. It would provide comprehensive, quality healthcare for all residents of the United States including payment for all physicians and hospital costs, dental, optical, mental health, prescription drugs for all and long-term care, among other benefits.  You would never receive another healthcare bill.  There would be no co-pays, deductibles, or denials.  There would never be any more bankruptcies caused by healthcare costs.

 

Congressman Conyers has jurisdiction over bankruptcy as a part of his Judiciary Committee duties.  About 50% of the bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by healthcare crises.  People are losing their homes and their jobs and their livelihood, children are missing a college education, and businesses are going bankrupt and/or cutting out healthcare coverage entirely because of the rising cost of insurance.

 

It would be good for reporters to check out Conyers’ bill and see how it would be financed by all of us, employers and employees,  paying a small premium based on our income, and that all of us except 5%, the ultra rich, would be spending less money than we are now paying for healthcare.

 

The cost of high-priced insurance companies would be eliminated because we wouldn’t need them. They don’t provide any healthcare at all.    This would save almost $300 billion each year.   Insurance companies just take the money, make a huge profit, and pay out a reduced amount, too little for the healthcare of the people.  They are money-managers, not healthcare professionals.  They even invest our money in tobacco and other detrimental corporations. They control the doctors, the Congress, and our healthcare at the moment.  They want to keep that control.  So they are scurrying about to try to get their own survival plan firmly entrenched in Congress.

 

President Bush’s Health Savings Accounts and ownership plans are also promoted in the AHIP plan.  These would provide money to managers and put more money into Wall Street.  The affluent who would then get tax breaks for saving money for future healthcare needs. Because of their tax-breaks, government money sorely needed for a healthy society would be used to further enrich the money managers.  People would be urged to pay as much as possible out of pocket into the system before accessing their Health Savings Accounts.

 

Healthcare-NOW is a national movement made up of hundreds of organizations challenging this kind of continuing government subsidy for the health insurance industry. We need healthcare – not insurance companies. AHIP represents those 1300 insurance companies that would be replaced by a single payer such as an improved Medicare for All.  At present, they benefit from the increasing privatization of Medicare Part D and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements for their management costs.   That’s why they are proposing to “help the uninsured” by providing more tax money to Medicare and Medicaid.

 

The uninsured must be covered. It is a mandate.  But the rest of us need a good healthcare system too. It could be so simple and so beneficial if we went for a single payer national non-profit healthcare system instead of more money to the insurance companies.

 

If you would like more information, please check our website, www.healthcare-now.org. Marilyn Clement, National Coordinator, Healthcare-NOW

 

 

Co-Chairs: Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers (largest industrial union in North America); Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society; Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program

Bullet Points for Legislators

  • Single Payer saves money.  For the past 20 years, states have commissioned studies on different types of health care systems.   In EVERY case, single payer was shown to be the only way to cover everyone and the only system that saved money and controlled costs.

  • Publicly financed does not mean government run health care.  YOU have publicly finance health coverage, but the government does not make decisions regarding your health care.

  • Cost conscious patients often don't get the care they need.   Most decisions are made by the doctor in concert with the patient, but the patient relies on the doctor's knowledge to make a decision.  Expensive tests and treatments cannot be ordered by the patient, only the doctor.

  • Lifestyle choices are not what is fueling high costs in health care.   The United States ranks low in general health indicators, but high in good health habits.  We smoke less, drink less and consume less animal fat that many other countries with better health indicators and much lower health care costs.

  • Businesses can accurately determine their health care costs and are not subject to unanticipated large premium increases.

  • It will reduce labor costs due to a more efficient way of financing health care, eliminating much wasteful administration.

  • Workers' Compensation costs will be reduced, likely by half, due to the fact that everyone has health coverage and there is no need for the medical portion.

  • It reduces the need for part time employees and provides easier recruiting.  There are no pre-existing conditions or Cobra issues.

  • Eliminates the oversight of health benefits and bargaining health coverage with employees.

  • It creates healthier personnel and more stable employees, reduces absenteeism and eliminates employer health coverage complaints.

  • It reduces employee health related debt and personal bankruptcies.

  • It frees up family income that can be spent on other goods and services, thus stimulating the economy.

Tips for Writing Letters to Editor

Follow guidelines for your local paper (word count, submission instructions, etc.)

Frame your letter in relation to a recent news item Use state specific data whenever possible (let us know if you need help finding some!)

Address counter arguments

Be aware of your audience and emphasize how Medicare for All is good for ALL residents of the state

Criticize other positions, not people Include your credentials (especially if you work in the healthcare field)

Avoid jargon and abbreviations

Don’t overload on statistics and minor details

Cover only one or two points in a single letter

Avoid rambling and vagueness

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Region 1 Meeting - Cleveland Mon. 29 Jan, 2018 (5:00 pm - 6:30 pm) North Shore AFL-CIO Office, 3250 Euclid Ave, 2nd floor - Note: enter parking lot from Prospect Ave. Enter building from re...
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