06 April 2007

National single-payer news

High-deductible health insurance plans favored by many employers often wind up being an unfair burden to women, Steffie Woolhandler's study on high-deductible health plans shows, largely because women need many routine medical exams that quickly add up. "The median expense for men under 45 in these plans was less than $500, but for women it was more than $1,200, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers."

A real hurrah goes to ACT UP. These are people who know how to stage a good demonstration, and they're now committed to single-payer. At a Manhattan demonstration where 27 activists were arrested, "David Golden of the New York City AIDS Housing Network called for the extension of the housing and social benefits provided by the H.I.V./ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to people living with H.I.V. The group is pushing for 'HASA for all.' He asked, 'Why should you have to get gravely sick before receiving benefits?'... Fifty body bags were scattered around the bull 'to symbolize the 50 people a day who die from lack of insurance in this country,' said ACT UP’s Ann Northrop."

“We’ll show you what activists are capable of,” ACT UP founder Larry Kramer told the crowd before the march left the Federal Building at Broadway and Worth Street. “This is the beginning of a demonstration to take the country to task,” Kramer said. “It’s appalling that our country doesn’t have universal health care — we’re the wealthiest country in the world.”

The NY Times ran an op-ed on the U.S. safety-net's disappearance, focusing on those Circuit City employees laid off because they earned too much. "If companies aren’t going to provide health insurance, the government will need to. It can do so directly, through a single-payer system similar to those in other countries, or indirectly, by pooling together the uninsured and helping them buy coverage, as Massachusetts is now planning." Except that second choice locks in the inefficiencies and will bankrupt us. Except for that one detail.

Creative destruction for the rest of us: "Conservation programs and universal health care aren’t the problem; they are the solution. Environmental rules save resources. Universal health care saves lives. And both create jobs."

In North Carolina the News Observer gives kudos to Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of that state.
Jones is expressing justifiable outrage at the way drug manufacturers pushed the Medicare prescription drug plan through Congress, including the night when the House leadership (then, in 2003, under Republican control) kept the vote open for hours while leaders and pharmaceutical reps worked the halls for votes.

The industry was especially fond of one provision in the plan -- barring the federal government from using its clout to negotiate lower prices for the drugs used by millions of elderly Americans. This was a blatant bow to the companies from the Bush administration, which wanted to protect its political allies and contributors even if it put a hit on elderly folks. It worked, too.
The Akron Beacon Journal reported on a healthcare meeting sponsored by Single-Payer Action Network Ohio."The closest the United States has come to a single-payer system is Medicare, the national health-insurance program for people age 65 or older and some younger disabled Americans. Just as the federal government does under Medicare, a state-run single-payer system would set the reimbursement rates for doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers."

The San Antonio Express gave space for a single-payer op-ed that nicely describes the Massachusetts' plan:
...a 56-year-old making $30,000 annually will have to spend $7,164 in premium and deductible payments before insurance kicks in and still pony up 20 percent of hospital costs after that, according to Physicians for A National Health Program, or PNHP. Such coverage is health insurance in name only.
The author, a pediatrician member of PNHP, argues that HR 676 is the way to go. Bravo.

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