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Forum Post: Single Payer Advocates: How Do We Defeat Health Care for Profit?

Posted 6 years ago on May 23, 2014, 8:23 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Single Payer Advocates: How Do We Defeat Health Care for Profit?

Friday, 23 May 2014 09:50
By Anne Meador, DC Media Group | News Analysis


At a panel hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Capitol Hill on May 21, advocates for single payer healthcare criticized the current system in the U.S. as inefficient, expensive and delivering poor results in comparison to wealthy nations who offer universal health coverage to their citizens.

“We have a completely irrational system. Every other industrialized nation has proven outcomes at less cost,” said Robert Weissman of advocacy group Public Citizen.

The U.S. is one of few industrialized countries which doesn’t offer universal healthcare to its citizens. Weissman and other panelists cited high rates of infant mortality and shortened life expectancy for poor women, even as the U.S. far outspends other countries for healthcare.

In one respect, however, the American healthcare system is unbeatable.

“It’s not true to call healthcare in America a failure,” said Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “It’s very successful, just not at providing healthcare, but at making profits.”

The heart of the problem is the damaging trend of privatization which began in the 1980′s, pitting profit-making enterprises against the public good.

“Costs have been completely out of control, and the plan is to shift those costs onto individuals,” said Dr. Andrew Coates of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Friedman said access to healthcare in the U.S. is rationed by commodifying it. Thirty percent of Americans have difficulty accessing heathcare, even if they have health insurance. Only four percent of people have difficulty getting healthcare in countries with a single payer system, where government foots the bill for healthcare costs.

Access to healthcare can also be regarded as a moral issue, according to Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy for National Nurses United. He said that nurses want to be caregivers and exercise their clinical judgment on behalf of patients “under a single standard of high quality.” Market-based healthcare makes that impossible, and the Affordable Care Act has not been a solution. Under the ACA, he said, we have a tiered system with services according to ability to pay.

Far from being a step toward a single payer system, as many supporters claim, the Affordable Care Act further entrenches private health insurance. “Our market-based system will continue to increase healthcare spending, leave people out and result in poor health outcomes because the bottom line is profit, not health,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, a physician and organizer of Popular Resistance. “Until we change this fundamental dynamic, we will continue to fail to significantly improve the health of our population.”

Poor patients living in Dr. Coates’ area near Vermont can’t afford premiums and co-pays. “What we’re finding is, visits to the ER are going down, while admissions to the hospital are going up. Patients are coming in much sicker.” From his point of view, wealth inequality is leading to a breaking point. “There are hideous disparities. We concentrate on the top one percent or top one-thousandth of one percent, but the poor are getting poorer,” he said. “Income inequality creates its own crisis. At some point, something’s got to give.”

He thinks that establishing healthcare as a right for all is the remedy. “It would be liberating,” he said. “We deserve basic human dignity, and we should all be free. It would change our basic political culture.”

Panelists seemed to agree that a grassroots political movement is needed to achieve universal healthcare under a single payer system, a goal which they view as part of a broader struggle.

“Winning single payer will do all kinds of things to advance social justice, because for one it eliminates industry control of an entire sector of the economy,” said Robert Weissman. “Single payer means we’re all in it together. We believe we’re here to take care of each other.”

Senator Sanders called single payer a political and economic issue. “We are taking on obviously very powerful special interests,” he said, “who believe that the function of healthcare is for insurance companies, drug companies and medical equipment suppliers to make as much money as they possibly can.” He believes that the public supports single payer, but mainstream media limits debate and promulgates anti-government sentiment.

Along with others on the panel, Dr. Flowers believes that progress will be driven from the bottom up. “A national single payer health system will come from steadfast determination and strategic organizing and action,” she said. “Single payer is never going to be put on the table by people in this town when we have a plutocracy. It’s going to be put on the table by us.”

Archived video of Single Payer Summit here. http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/recent-business/live-panel-discussion-on-single-payer-health-care

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.



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[-] 3 points by turbocharger (1756) 6 years ago

Imagine back in the day, a small village of people living together. A woman is sick, and her family rushes her to the doctor.

The doctor looks at her and asks the kids for some money. They say they have none. The doctor then closes the door.

This is the perverse system we live in now, where people being sick and taking care of our people is no longer a priority.

But, people don't even really know their neighbors anymore anyways so it probably makes it easier on the soul.

Out of sight, out of mind.

The solution is the same as it always was, as it always will be. People making it happen. If the people don't put it into action themselves, then nothing will change.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

right on man! it was true in 1890 and true today- "I could see that the white man did not care for each other the way our people did...They would take everything from each other if they could...some... had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all... This could not be better than the old ways of my people." - Black Elk

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

"Back in the day" - that Dr. likely would have taken farm produce ( fruit - veggies - beef - pork - chicken - etc ) as payment to treat that "small village" woman - that Dr. "back in the day" might very well have made a house call.

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 6 years ago

Its too bad we dont have doctors that do house calls anymore.

[-] -1 points by 99nproud (2697) 6 years ago

The number of people using Public option health care is growing!


Before the ACA more than half the people used some form of government healthcare, Medicaid, Medicare,V.A. etc.

We keep pressuring for public option and the private health insurance corps will be driven out of business.

We can't be stopped.

Protest, Vote. Repeat

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Students Now Indentured to the Banksters

Thursday, 22 May 2014 13:53
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed


Never in the history of the developed world has an entire generation had to go into debt just to get an education and a job. Until now.

Back in January, 31-year-old Tony Muzzatti, who at the time owed around $60,000 in student loan debt to Sallie Mae and always made on-time payments, was told that he had to immediately make a payment of $10,000, or face asset seizures.

That's because his grandmother, who also happened to be his cosigner on the student loans, had just died.

Christopher Kibler was also told by Sallie Mae that he had to immediately pay back nearly $22,000 in student loan debts after his father, the cosigner on his loans, had passed away.

Muzzatti and Kibler are just two of the many victims of what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau refers to as "auto-defaults," or when banks immediately say that private student loan debts are in default after the death or bankruptcy of a cosigner.

The "auto-default" practice is just one of the many ways that big banks and Wall Street executives are making billions of dollars off of an entire generation of struggling, debt-ridden Americans.

Right now, there's over $1.18 trillion in outstanding student debt in America.

More than 40 million Americans hold student loan debt, which is greater than the entire population of Canada, Poland, North Korea, Australia and more than 200 other countries.

And of those 40 million borrowers, around 7 million have defaulted on their debt.

The average debt for a 25-year-old American student has risen a staggering 91 percent over the past decade, and the average college debt per person is over $23,000.

An entire generation of Americans is completely screwed, and is unable to start a family, buy a house, and build the equity needed to retire down the road.

This is a morally criminal conspiracy that's been going on for the past 33 years, ever since Ronald Reagan came to Washington, and it's been a three-step process.

First, as governor of California, Reagan did away with that state's free college education program, that let tens of thousands of Californians get an affordable and quality education. Others across the country followed his lead.

As soon as he came to Washington, Reagan continued his all-out assault on an affordable college education by slashing federal aid to higher education institutions across the country, including America's land-grant colleges that had been providing affordable and quality education since they were first established by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.

When Reagan came in the office only about 20 percent of the cost of college was paid as tuition; the other 80 percent was paid by governments and endowments. Today the numbers are almost exactly reversed and instead of government picking up most of the cost of tuition it is the students themselves.

Next, Reagan laid the groundwork for the federal government to get involved in the student loan business.

Thanks to Reagan's new ed policies, the federal government had an incentive to hand out loans to hundreds of thousands of students, because the interest on those loans would become revenue.

Finally, our backwards trade policies that have been in place for the past 33 years have also devastated America's "lost generation."

Believe it or not, there used to be a time in our country when you could graduate from high school, get a good paying blue-collar job, provide for your family, and save up for retirement.

But thanks to decades of job-killing trade policies, that's no longer the case.

Now, in order to become a part of the middle-class, and to have any shot at living the American Dream, you have to go to college, strap yourself with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, get a degree, and get a white-collar job.

The worst part of all of this is that we have done this to ourselves.

We have shot ourselves in the foot, by listening to 33 years of failed Reaganomics, and by buying into the idea that education should be a commodity and something that banksters can get rich off of, and not part of the commons.

It's time we own up to our mistakes, and start calling America's student loan debt crisis what it really is: A massive, devastating, trillion dollar morally criminal conspiracy, committed by Wall Street banksters, libertarian billionaires and Reaganomics devotees.

Fortunately, we can undo a lot of this damage, and lift an entire generation of Americans out of piles of debt.

It starts by declaring a debt jubilee on all outstanding student loan debt in America, and wiping the slate clean. Relieve millions of Americans from their crippling debt, so they can invest in homes, start families, and build equity.

And, we need to make a public college education free to every American who qualifies for it.

If we can afford to spend trillions of dollars fighting two unjust wars, we can certainly afford to give all eligible Americans an affordable and quality education at a fraction of that cost.

And, finally, we should turn our back on 30 years of insane trade policies and bring good paying blue-collar jobs back home.

Let's make sure that an entire generation never again has to go into debt just to get an education and a job.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 1 points by Shule (2638) 6 years ago

We need to kill this crazy idea of having to make profit on everything first.

Milton Friedman should be shot. (Not to be confused with Gerald)

[-] 0 points by BradB (2693) from Washington, DC 6 years ago

The only way to defeat healthcare for profit... is to provide alternative ways of employment....

when Obama first took office... the dems had the hs & sen ... and had the votes for single payer....

Obama stopped it....

He (in my words) ... said 17% of the economy is in healthcare management of some sort... and we cannot add another 17% unemployed to this recession... you've got to phase it in... you have to find a better way.....