The Senate Finance committee headed by Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley are going to decide which model of health care will be adopted by this country; they would not have been my first choice to oversee this crucial and necessary need. The fact that it is a finance committee, and not the health care industry, that will decide the type of national health care that will be adopted by the United States sends up a huge red flag in my mind. I believe that Senator Baucus has an agenda to keep America saddled with the status quo, and is resistant to any true reform of our failing health care system. The following is an explanation of HR676 and what I believe is really motivating Senator Baucus.
In my opinion, the best health care plan for this country would be HR676, a single-payer system that would save billions in administrative and third party costs, allowing the bulk of the money appropriated in it to be spent on providing health care goods and services to all American citizens.
The Physicians For a National Health Plan website offers a General Resolution in support of the US National Health Insurance Act, HR676 which notes:
* Everyone deserves access to affordable quality health care.
* The number of Americans without HC exceeds 47 million.
* Millions of people with health care insurance have coverage so skimpy that a major illness or accident would lead to financial ruin. Medical bills contribute to one-half of all bankruptcies.
* Proposals for “consumer directed health care” would worsen this situation by penalizing the sick, discouraging prevention and saddling many working families with huge medical bills.
* Managed care and other market-based reforms have failed to contain health care costs, which now threaten the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
* Administrative waste stemming from our reliance on private insurers consumes one-third of health spending.
* U.S. hospitals spend 24.3% of their budgets on billing and administration while hospitals under Canada’s single-payer system spend only 12.9%.
* American physicians are inundated with bureaucratic tasks and costs that Canadian physicians avoid.
* Harvard researchers estimated that more than $300 billion could be recovered by replacing private insurance companies with a single-public-payer, enough to cover the uninsured and improve coverage for all those who now have only partial coverage.
* “Consumer directed health care” adds yet another expensive layer of bureaucrats-the financial firms that manage health savings accounts.
* Entrusting care to profit-oriented firms diverts billions of dollars to outrageous incomes for CEOs and threatens the quality of health care.
* The US National Health Insurance act would assure universal coverage of all medically necessary services, contain costs by slashing bureaucracy, protect doctor patient relationship, assure patients a completely free choice of doctors and allow doctors a free choice of practice settings.
Support for HR676 calls upon federal legislators to work towards its enactment within the current congress.
When the Senate Finance Committee convened for their first and second round table discussions on health care reform, single-payer was not allowed a seat at the table. A group of respectable physicians, lawyers and nurses supporting single-payer health care stood up before Senator Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee, on May 5 and May 12 ,demanding that single-payer advocates be allowed to testify; forty-one witnesses were called before the committee over the next three days. The single-payer advocates were handcuffed, escorted from the room and arrested. The thirteen men and women who stood up to the Senate Finance Committee in support of single-payer health care were charged with disruption of Congress. They are known as the Baucus 13.
Their names are Dr. Margret Flowers, Dr. Pat Salomon, Dr. Carol Paris, Russell Mokhiber, Kevin Zeese, Mark Dudzik, and Adam Schneider, Katie Robbins, Dr. Judy Dasovich, Dr. Steve Fenichel, Sue Cannon, DeAnn McEwan, and Jerry Call.
What would motivate Senator Baucus to reject single-payer as a viable option in order to bring,much needed, reform to our present health care system? According to a public interest group, Common Dreams, Senator Baucus is the main architect of health care reform in Congress. During the past two election cycles, he has also received more campaign contributions from health insurance companies ($183,750), and pharmaceutical corporations ($229,020), than any other sitting Democratic member of the House. I believe these figures to be the primary motivator for Senator Max Baucus to keep single-payer off the table, and it appears that he is winning the battle.
Prosecutors asked that the Baucus 13 be ordered to stay away from the Dirksen Senate office building where the Senate finance committee meetings are being held and they got their wish.
Russel Mokhiber, a member of the single-payer action group, was interviewed after his court appearance. He said, “Sixty Americans die every day from lack of health insurance. Only single payer will save hundreds of billions of dollars in overhead, waste, profits and fraud needed to insure every person in this country. President Obama, Senator Baucus and the corporate Democrats are engaged in the futility of piecemeal tinkering while Americans die. We need to put an end to the private health insurance industry so that the American people can get the health care they deserve.” Mr. Mokhiber also said “We are charging Senator Baucus with corruption of Congress. We believe we have a stronger case.”
According to recent polls, single-payer is supported by a majority of Americans, doctors and health economists. Senator Baucus has been repeatedly asked over the past months to allow a single payer advocate to testify. He has steadfastly refused.
Paul Krugman, economist and op-ed columnist for the NY Times is quoted as saying “The unwillingness of other politicians to confront the insurance and other lobbies that so successfully frustrated the Clinton effort, a temporary remission in the growth of health care spending as HMOs briefly managed to limit cost increases, and the general distraction of a nation focused first on the gloriousness of getting rich, then on terrorism—have kept health care off the top of the agenda.”
Today, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world which does not provide quality health care for all of its citizens. Nothing can break the heart and spirit of a person more than realizing that their loved ones have suffered needlessly, and in many cases, actually die because their access to any type of health care has been barred due to economic circumstances or the interference of an insurer. The blind eye and greed of the insurance industry and special interests must be corrected and curbed so that we can move forward in this country.