On S. 703, “The American Health Security Act”

April 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Healthcare-NOW! Updates

With the introduction of Senate Bill 703, the single-payer movement is gearing up to support a Senate strategy. We applaud Senator Sanders [VT] for introducing S703 “the American Health Security Act,” a comprehensive single-payer bill, though not a direct companion bill to HR 676. Differences between the bills are noted in the document (here) created by Dr. Len Rodberg, PNHP.

Healthcare-NOW! recognizes that HR 676 has aspects that are preferable to S703. For example, HR 676 builds on the existing structure of Medicare, which should allow for an easier, quicker, and less expensive transition to universal single-payer. Also, the taxing structure set up in 676 is preferable–a more equitable split between employer and employee, plus the higher tax on the wealthiest 5% and the small transfer tax on stocks and bonds transfers helps to address the huge gap between the rich and working class & poor. HR 676 legislation is more inclusive of ALL residents, which emphasizes our mission of implementing a health care system that respects health as a human right.

S703 also has preferable points to HR 676. S703 stresses the need for community health centers to be fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care. It also addresses the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals.

We urge you to look over the differences and prepare to support S703 to bring single-payer into the dialogue of the Senate. In the coming months, Healthcare-NOW! and allied organizations encourage you to lobby your Representatives to continue support and cosponsorship of HR 676 as well as your Senators to cosponsor S703. There are currently no cosponsors of S703, so we challenge you to bring the first Senator on board!

The next national call-in day is April 15th. We will be sending you an announcement and sample script to contact your Senators to cosponsor S703. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, so contacting Senators serving on this committee urging support of S703 is also strategic.

Physicians for a National Health Program has submitted highlights of S703:

  • Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice.
  • The program is paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes amounting to less than what people now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Comprehensive benefits, including coverage for dental, mental health, and prescription drugs.
  • While federally funded, the program is to be administered by the states.
  • By eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private, investor-owned insurance industry, along with the burdensome paperwork imposed on physicians, hospitals and other providers, the plan saves at least $400 billion annually – enough money to provide comprehensive, quality care to all.
  • Community health centers are fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care.
  • To address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals.

Sanders, who serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, is a longtime advocate of fundamental health care reform. His new bill draws heavily upon the single-payer legislation introduced by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) in 1993, S. 491, and closely parallels similar legislation pending before the House, H.R. 1200, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

There is no summary available yet, but the full text of legislation is found here.

Thanks for all you do!

Healthcare-NOW! Staff and Steering Committee
1-800-453-1305

Comments

7 Responses to “On S. 703, “The American Health Security Act””
  1. William Ichiro Sakaguchi says:

    I asked my wife, what would you think if your dentist worked at the Waimanalo Community Health Center, and you could to to see him there, as part of the service that might be made available through S703? That for her was a compelling argument in favor of a Single-Payer Health Plan. Ooops I just read the comparison, and S703 does not include dental care, that’s too bad.

  2. charles moore says:

    I think that Sen Sanders has pretty well hit the nail on the head…I agree with most all of it. I would add, however, that the only logical way to pay for all of this (short of a huge tax bill) is to merge all existing federal programs into one, and manage it directly. This would include the VA, Indian Health, various Children’s Health, Medicaid etc all merged into an improved Medicare for All. This is implied in S 703 but I didn’t find it specifically. This would save an extraordinary amount of wasted money, and it has been done by every country that has achieved a workable national health program.
    A political bombshell?
    While I am a big supporter of Pres. Obama, he has obviously decided to cave in to big business (Big Pharma, profit oriented insurance industry, and various provider trade unions) as the only way to get any sort of reform bill passed. But it won’t work the way he’s going, and I would rather see it aborted than to do it wrong and create a system that will fail, and no one will be satisfied.
    Single payer system is the only way to go, as in S703 and HR676.

  3. Lee Stanfield says:

    I am disappointed that Obama has not taken a stand in favor of universal single-payer. I think he is trying to make the right “political moves” & may not be wanting to create too many more waves with so much on his plate. However, I believe he is selling himself & his popularity way short! I believe that if someone with the mass appeal Obama has, would come out & educate the public about what universal single-payer really is, & offer counter arguments to the lies & distortions of the “for profit” industry, we could get universal single-payer passed in a heartbeat! People would be picketing & tying up the phones of their federal legislators demanding it! The country is ready! All that is needed is for Obama to take up the banner. I am terrified of what allowing “for profit” to compete with a “public option” plan will do (no matter how “robust”). I am afraid it will only achieve the same thing that making Original Medicare into “Medicare Advantage” accomplished… disaster! It is a mess financially & is the most confusing, inefficient system that could ever have been designed.

    • Kimber says:

      Lee – I SOOOOO agree with you! I just took pretty much what you wrote and sent it to Obama – adjusting it to make it a letter directed to Obama. Thanks for the comment!

      I’ve been calling/writing/visiting my Senators/Representatives left and right. It’s so frustrating! If Obama would just step up to this issue this would be a whole different ball game!

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