Action Alert: Help Get Single-Payer Hearings in Congress

The House will release healthcare legislation very soon, and the draft bill could even come out next week. From there the bill will go to Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and the Ways and Means committees for debate.

We need you to call, fax, or visit four Congresssperson’s offices ASAP to make sure that single-payer healthcare is included in these discussions.

FIRST – Ask Your Rep. to Attend the Healthcare Financing Briefing

The Leadership Conference for Garunteed Health Care is holding a briefing titled, “How Do We Pay For It? Options for Financing Expanded Health Care.”

Call your representative and ask him/her to attend. If you know your representative, call 866-338-1015 for the Capital Switchboard. If not, visit votesmart.org to find out.

Here’s the information:
1:00 PM, June 10, 2009
2237 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC

SECOND – Ask Two Chairmen to Hold Single-Payer Hearings

Please call the chairmen of these committees and tell them that:
“Because the majority of Americans, doctors, and nurses support a single-payer healthcare system, I hope to see a robust debate on single-payer healthcare–with single-payer advocates as witnesses. Please follow Rep. George Miller’s lead and hold hearings on single-payer healthcare in your committee.”

Call or fax the Committee Chairmen here:
Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman
Phone: 202-225-3976 – Fax: 202-225-4099 – Email: here

Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel
Phone: 202-225-4365 – Fax: 202-225-0816 – Email: here

THIRD – Contact Sen. Kennedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy (MA) is holding a hearing on healthcare reform this Thursday, June 11th, at 3pm in Senate HELP Committee. Please call or fax him asking him to include single-payer advocates in this important hearing.

Sen. Ted Kennedy
Phone: 202-224-4543 – Fax: 202-224-2417 – Email: here

Comments

6 Responses to “Action Alert: Help Get Single-Payer Hearings in Congress”
  1. Michael McGinnis says:

    In my opinion, and its just my opinion. Anything less than a Nationwide Strike for Single Payer Healthcare, will never get the attention of the Pay for Play Politicians in Washington. The only way to get the attention of the media and Washington is a single event that they cannot ignore. It must also coincide with the negotiations for a National Healthcare Policy, so there is no mistake about the purpose of the event.

  2. care4all says:

    Good points MIchael. Can all of the Single Payer organizations get together and organize a HUGE Nationwide Protest and demand Single Payer?

    It is outrageous that, while the majority of Americans want Single Payer, many are dying because of our corrupt healthcare system, and our legislators aren’t listening! We must organize and fight!

    Our fight for equal access to healthcare for all is about democracy, human rights, civil rights, and basic human decency.

    • h.r.676NOW! says:

      Couldn’t be more eloquent!
      The only thing that gives me any hope in this fight for Single Payer system is the fact that finally we have an army of grassrots forces to fight for our rights. For many years, we, Americans, were intimidated and lied to (remember the “Harry and Louise” ads?)by eveyone in the industry and our own elected officials on the take from them. Unfortunately, even our President, for whom I voted specifically for his promise to give us the health care that he and the Congress has, abandoned us.
      But look at us now! We’re millions strong and ready to fight!
      “Allons Enfant de la Patrie!” – to the barricades!

  3. Carol Watson says:

    It’s a disgrace that Congress has taken single payer off the table. We need to shame them into doing what they know is the right thing–getting profit out of the system. Are any demonstrations planned by any organization for Los Angeles? California?

    • h.r.676NOW! says:

      The real shame is that it is a Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), leading the health-care negotiations as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is in the opposition to H.R.676! There’s somebody who shouldn’t be reelected.
      I, too, think that the only way to make our voices heard and win this fight is to take it to the streets.
      Maybe we could use Twitter, the widely used favorite of many, to organize a demonstration here in Los Angeles.

  4. Alain Lazard says:

    SINGLE PAYER DEMYSTIFIED

    The debate over our dysfunctional health care system and how to fix it is back on the front burner. This question resurfaces regularly but has never been addressed rationally. The recent meetings in Washington DC, chaired by Senator Max Baucus (Democrat-Montana), where everybody who is for the status quo has been invited and everybody proposing something significantly different has been sidelined, do not present a good omen for real change.

    We can add every possible gimmick on top of the current system but it would only make it more complicated and resolve nothing. The only sensible solution is “Single Payer Insurance”, as every industrialized countries in the world has already found out, from liberal France to conservative U.K.

    Single Payer Insurance doesn’t change anything as far as the amount and quality of medical practitioners and facilities that a country already has. It just returns up to 97% of the insurance premium to be used for medical services instead of the 65% to 75% that current private insurance companies do. Furthermore, the burden placed on medical professionals to process insurance claims with a myriad of companies adds another 10% or more to the cost of medical services, a cost that Single Payer Insurance reduces dramatically, or even eliminates altogether with proper computerization.

    The simple fact is that a Single Payer Insurance competing with nobody is infinitely more efficient than a collection of allegedly competing private insurance companies. This is an anathema in the country where capitalism is king … and the health insurance industry is playing that song every day in an attempt to avert a productive exchange. They are not afraid of clouding the debate by calling Single Payer “socialized medicine” (I have never heard anybody proposing a system with medical doctors on government payroll, have you?) or claiming that “government-run health care” is a sure recipe for rationing.

    First, Single Payer Insurance doesn’t have to be government-run health care. It can be an independent fund that operates within a legal framework adopted by a country. Its Board of Directors can include government officials but also, and mostly, representatives of consumer groups, employee and employer unions, medical professionals, etc., as is the case in many countries. In a well designed Single Payer Insurance, the medical doctors are the gatekeepers of the system and no middle man sits between the doctors and the patients, as is the case currently with private insurance pre-authorization, not to mention denial, procedures.

    Second, the concept that a fund that returns a larger percentage of the premiums for services (that should cost a little less because of the savings made in processing claims) would create rationing is mind boggling. How can the insurance industry lobby make such a claim with a straight face and get away with it. We don’t have rationing now? Since when is 97% smaller than 65% or 75%? I thought we had “truth-in-advertising” laws … and a free press to expose such dishonesty.

    I have been self-employed most of my life and I am a true believer in free enterprise and properly regulated capitalism. The question is: why are private health insurance companies so overwhelmingly less efficient than Single Payer Insurance? The answer is simple: Health insurance is not a de facto capitalist activity! There is no capitalist venture without some capital at risk. Health insurance companies do not provide capital, the customers supply it. Let’s look at the situation closely and engage in some analogies with banking:

    • As a privately insured individual you pay your premium monthly in advance. You might spend months, years or even decades if your deductible is substantial, before being reimbursed for “qualifying” medical expenses. Let’s say that your insurance company has 100,000 subscribers. Do the 100,000 monthly premiums earn you interest (for you)? No! Do the 100,000 monthly premiums not used for medical services accumulate and create a leftover capital (for you)? No! How much money is available at any time for medical services after deducting administrative expenses, advertising, lobbying, obscene executive salaries, bonuses, jets and retreats, agents’ commissions, profit, etc.? Around 65% to 75% of the premium money.

    • Let’s compare it to a bank or to a credit union where you deposit some money every month: You will earn interest on your money. The monthly management fee for the account would be very small, if any. 100% of your money, possibly more with interest, is available for you to withdraw at any time.

    What is a Single Payer Insurance fund? It is very similar to a credit union without thousands of individual accounts but with one single, collective account. Instead of the members writing checks, the medical providers supply claims and get reimbursed. As a matter of fact, the number of claims submitted per month is less than the number of checks that would be written for a corresponding number of individual checking accounts. Therefore, the administrative expenses of Single Payer Insurance are extremely low which points out the outrageous inefficiency and waste of private health insurance companies.

    The only productive expense private health insurance companies or a single payer fund have to engage in, besides the reimbursement of medical expenses, is fraud control. All other activities a private health insurance company undertakes (promotion, advertising, printing, meetings, executive travel, etc.) trigger a cost with no resulting benefits for its customers and consequently reduce the money available for reimbursement of medical expenses. This is the bottom line: The more private health insurance companies are proactive and compete, the lesser the value for their subscribers. Profit can only be generated by denying services from the funds left over after plethora of unproductive overhead expenses. Such a business model is an aberration and any company that does not provide value for your money should not stay in business very long. How can companies that not only do not provide value but reduce it, as health insurers do, stay in business? The blind support of some members of the U.S. Congress, who seems to believe that the welfare of a thousand or so insurance companies trumps the wellbeing of three hundred million plus Americans, is the only explanation.

    Artificially maintaining an inefficient business model is the opposite of what has allowed the United States to become the number one economy in the world. Doing that now with private health insurance companies, certainly signals the demise of what was one of our core strengths.

    All other desirable steps towards an advanced society, in particular universal health insurance coverage, can gradually follow the implementation of Single Payer Insurance which must be the first and unavoidable measure. No other desirable health care reform will bring an instant saving of some 30% for everybody currently insured (or several hundred billion dollars a year overall) as switching to Single Payer Insurance will. Furthermore, it will render health insurance access much cheaper for everybody else … a slam dunk choice if there ever was one!

    There is obviously little chance that Single Payer Insurance will pass the hurdle of the 111th Congress. The approach of the current administration might be the only viable compromise: Creating a public insurance fund that competes with private insurance. If private insurance companies compete on the same basis with the public fund (no precondition clauses, same level of coverage, etc.) they will have a run for their … sorry, our money; and we can safely forecast that they will become a thing of the past before we know it.

    Alain Lazard