Obama’s Choice: Single-Payer Health Care or Insurance Industry Profits

From the Green Party:

Obama’s choice: support health care for all Americans or support the insurance industry, say Greens

President Obama can either work to enact health care for all Americans or he can support insurance and HMO industry profits, say Greens

• Mandates and other market-based plans will not solve the health care crisis; Single-Payer (Medicare For All) makes health care a right for all Americans

• Obama’s plan for national computerization of medical records can only guarantee patients’ privacy and security under Single-Payer

• Green Party Speakers Bureau list of party activists available to speak on health care: http://gp.org/speakers/speakers-health-care.php

WASHINGTON, DC — President Obama has a choice — he can either work for universal health care or he can satisfy the demands of insurance industry lobbies for continued private profit, said Green Party leaders today.

Greens, in demanding a Single-Payer national health care program (also called Medicare For All), said that there was no possibility of guaranteed quality health care for every American under a market-based system. Rep. John Conyers’ (D-Mich.) bill for Single-Payer (HR 676, http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h676_ih.xml) has strong Green Party support, although many Greens also hope to see complementary medicine brought under the Single-Payer umbrella.

“President Obama needs to follow his own campaign rhetoric and listen to the American people. In many of his own town hall meetings, the demand for Single-Payer has been so strong that [Secretary of Health and Human Services] Tom Daschle has asked to meet with Single-Payer groups. Single-Payer will make health care a human right — one more important than the ‘right’ of insurance companies to make a profit off our need for health care,” said said Mark Dunlea, New York Green, member of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, and author of “Can Incrementalism Be the Path to Universal Health Care?” (http://www.hungeractionnys.org/increment.html)

Green Party leaders expressed special support for pro-Single-Payer organizations and coalitions that have shifted into high gear under the new presidential administration, including the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, Healthcare-NOW, California Nurses Association, and Physicians for a National Health Program.

“President Obama’s plan to have all medical records computerized within five years has made Single-Payer even more urgent. The plan will create an enormous risk for patients’ privacy and security, as private health insurers try to weaken privacy safeguards and gain access to records in an effort to exclude people from coverage, or make coverage more expensive for clients they consider high-risk. HMOs and insurance firms make their profits by cherry-picking patients who are less costly to insure and by limiting treatment for those with coverage, so they use medical records to determine who will be a financial risk. The only way to guarantee both protection from predatory corporations and access to health care for all Americans is to enact a Single-Payer program,” said Jill Bussiere, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Greens have argued that enactment of a Single-Payer program would boost the ailing US economy and provide relief for businesses large and small, since it would cancel the high expense and administrative burden of employer-based health care benefits (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=158). Single-Payer would lower the cost of health care for all middle- and low-income Americans, since the amount of taxes necessary to sustain Single-Payer would be far less than the cost of private coverage and medical fees. No American will go bankrupt because of a medical emergency in a Single-Payer system.

President Obama, despite supporting Single-Payer earlier in his political career, now favors a health care plan that would maintain private insurance industry control over Americans’ health care. Profit-making insurance, HMO, and pharmaceutical lobbies have a grip on most Democratic and Republican members of Congress because of campaign contributions and the influence of lobbyists.
Montana Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, wants the Single-Payer option “off the table” in the discussion on health care reform and, along with other Democrats, has proposed a market-based plan that would achieve universal coverage by requiring Americans who lack health coverage to purchase insurance from a private company.

“There will be no meaningful improvement in our nation’s health care system or any chance of universal care until Single-Payer is enacted and profit-making insurance companies no longer decree who gets care and what kind of care,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States. “Any ‘mandate’ reform plan that leaves private insurers in charge will either result in inadequate care or in huge taxpayer-funded subsidies to cover the loss of profits for HMOs and insurance companies compelled to cover people these companies would otherwise exclude. Single-Payer will cover all Americans regardless of age, income, or prior medical condition, and by eliminating the need for private insurers and the high profit rate they demand.”

“Even state based Single-Payer initiatives are being undermined by the president’s insurance-based proposal. Here in Pennsylvania we have a strong bill, with the funding included and a governor who has agreed to sign the legislation if passed (http://www.healthcare4allpa.org). Yet the Healthcare for All Now campaign, which supports the Obama plan, is trying to give the illusion of change, while maintaining the inefficient, exploitative insurance model. It amounts to a waste of tax dollars to provide more government money to insurance companies,” said Carl Romanelli, 2006 Pennsyvlania Green candidate for the US Senate.

Read “An International Perspective on Health Care Reform” by Connecticut Green Party member John R. Battista, MD (http://www.gp.org/first100/?p=119), published on the Green Party’s web site as part of “The First 100 Days: What Would a Green Administration Look Like?” (http://www.gp.org/first100)
For a comparison of mandate plans and Single-Payer , see “Talking Points: Why the mandate plans won’t work, and why Single-Payer ‘Medicare for All’ is what we need” by Len Rodberg, PhD, published by Physicians for a National Health Program (http://www.pnhp.org/news/2008/december/talking_points_why_.php).

Green Party information page on Single-Payer: http://www.gp.org/organize/sicko.html
Video clips:2008 Green presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney speaks on Single-Player health care and racial health care disparities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEHd4lRVUuUMore on health care: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEHd4lRVUuUHealth, the environment, and the economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVNTOa8owQQ

1 Comment

  1. Joyce Clarke said,

    January 31, 2009 @ 7:12 am

    Given the support for a Single Payer Plan in the two recent rounds of comments to the Obana Transition’ Team’s change.gov website, in addition to demand at town hall meetings during the campaign, one would hope that President Obama would listen to the wisdom of citizens,rather than the predatory insurance companies, and support a Single Payer Plan. His argument that the existance of the current failed “health care” system based on for- profit insusrance companies would make implementation of a single payer health plan difficult, is specious.

    With increasing unemployment, millions more have lost coverage, thousands more are facing bankruptcy because of extortionate premiums and related bills that support insurance companies inflated CEO salaries, and uncounted thousands are choosing between food and medicines. Yet, it appears that President Obama
    is blind to this suffering: instead of plans for a Single Payer System we get plans for implementing an elecronic database for medical information, good in the long -term if software is standardized and security is robust, but not
    the triage required. When the patient is bleedng to death, band aids such as electronic record keeping are not what is urgently needed!

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