Facebook logoTwitter logoYouTube logo

Medicare-for-All Advocates Say Bill Fails to Meet Needs of People

New York, NY – On Tuesday, President Obama signed the health reform bill into law. This bill closely resembles the legislation written by Liz Fowler, former Vice President of Public Policy for Well Point, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.

Healthcare-NOW!, a national organization supporting expanded and improved Medicare for all, points out that this bill tweaks the same failing non-system of health care in the United States and further entrenches the for-profit private health insurance, drug, and hospital industries diverting to them the resources needed to achieve high quality, universal, comprehensive health care.

“It is troubling to watch this bill touted as an equal in political significance and social implications to Social Security or Medicare. As advocates of an improved and expanded Medicare for all system, we must educate more and more people about the difference between transformative healthcare policy that is yet to be achieved and this bill that will leave so many people without access to the basic human right of healthcare. We must redouble our efforts,” states Donna Smith, Healthcare-Now steering committee, National Nurses United/California Nurses Association.

Healthcare-NOW! is most aggrieved about the following aspects of the bill:

  • About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out resulting in an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually. One-third of these will be undocumented immigrants who will be excluded from purchasing private insurance.
  • Millions of people who are not eligible for public health insurance programs Medicaid and Medicare will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of only 70 percent of their medical expenses, potentially leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Many will find such policies too expensive to afford or, if they do buy them, too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles.
  • Those remaining uninsured will be fined up to 2.5% of their income.
  • Insurance firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will enhance their financial and political power, and with it their ability to block future reform.
  • The bill will drain about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the tens of millions who will remain uninsured.
  • People with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan’s limited network of providers, face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. As the cost of insurance grows, they will be taxed on their benefits.
  • Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates. The industry lobbying group, American Health Insurance Plans, came just short of announcing the industry’s next rate increase in its brief statement in response to the bill: “The access expansions are a significant step forward, but this legislation will exacerbate the health care costs crisis facing many working families and small businesses.”
  • The much-vaunted insurance regulations – e.g. ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions – are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the central role that insurers played in crafting the legislation. Older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher gender-based rates at least until 2017.
  • It allows insurers to expand so-called wellness programs that let insurers penalize subscribers by hundreds—and even thousands—of dollars for not meeting certain ‘wellness targets,’ such as a particular cholesterol number, blood sugar measurement or body-weight target.
  • Women’s reproductive rights will be further eroded, due to segregation of insurance funds for abortion from all other medical services.

“We now have insurance reform based on a market model, but that model has failed to work up to now. This bill puts corporate interests before the American people. What people need is health care, not health insurance,” states Katie Robbins, National Organizer of Healthcare-NOW!

Ray Stever President of the New Jersey One Plan One Nation Coalition states, “Thousands of men and woman have been laid off and are struggling to buy food or pay the rent or mortgage. Now they are being forced under a mandate to buy health insurance or be financially penalized.”

“This bill does nothing to provide relief to state and local governments that face crippling fiscal crises, caused both by the recession and uncontrolled increases in the cost of health benefits for government employees,” comments Tom Knoche of Healthcare-NOW!. “Expanding Medicare to cover everyone would have saved state and local governments literally hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide.”

“The attacks on employment-based health benefits continue under this bill. In fact, it will incentivize employers to shift more and more of the costs of healthcare onto the backs of workers. Now is the time for the entire labor movement to unite around the movement to achieve Medicare for All,” Mark Dudzic, National Coordinator, Labor Campaign for Single Payer.

Healthcare-NOW! is committed to continuing to educate and advocate on the solution to our health care crisis: a single-payer system or improved Medicare system covering everyone is the only way to create a universal, high quality system at less cost than we currently pay for health care as a nation.

Healthcare-NOW!, a national organization of 50,000 supporters for expanded and improved Medicare for All, has opposed the current model of health reform since its annual meeting in the fall of 2009 and remains committed to building the movement to achieve the right to health in the United States. For more information, visit www.healthcare-now.org.

Comments

24 Responses to “Medicare-for-All Advocates Say Bill Fails to Meet Needs of People”
  1. mb says:

    What’s the deal with Chomsky saying he would’ve held his nose and voted for Obamacare. I think he is getting old.

  2. Sylvester Raymond says:

    I agree with you, this bill does not meet the needs of most americans, to the contrary it is a gift to the insurance co.

  3. Lou Templeton says:

    I’ve been a staunch supporter of Healthcare-Now but am disappointed at the negative, “the glass is empty” kind of reaction. I’m disappointed at how difficult it is to pass anything in Congress. That’s why I look at the bill as “the glass is half full”. I would hope Healthcare-Now, instead of a negative stance, would take the high road and say it’s not what Americans need but we are pleased some people will be helped while we continue to strive for the best system–a single payer healthcare for all Americans.

    • KC says:

      DONT BELIEVE THE ADMINISTRATIVE HYPE. THE GLASS IS NOT HALF FULL. THE GLASS IS MORE THAN 3/4 EMPTY AT BEST. THIS BILL IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY AND BIG PHARMA BAILOUT.

  4. Emily Maloney says:

    The plan just signed by Obama is nothing but a give away to the insurance indusstry; it mandates
    purchase of insurance company plans and penalties if individuals fail to do so. The answer
    to real health care reform is Medicare For All, which according to Physicians for a National Health Program would save over $286 billion dollars a year in total health care costs. Sad that all those
    involved with the ridiculous plan just approvd wwere bought off big time by the insurance industry.

  5. Ok. We all agree that the bill stinks and it is definitley a move forward as some would like to think.
    However, the struggle around Medicare For All should have been a very important lesson in politics for all of us. This struggle showed us that unlike we have been led to believe we DO NOT live in a democracy! Rather we lived in a corporate ruled oligarchy. Whether conservative or liberal our elected congressional representatives and senators sold us out worse than any $50 hooker could have done!

    Sisters & Brothers, the sham that passed for “healthcare reform” should be an eye opener for all of us! It should help us to conclude that the two party system of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum is NOT in our interests!

    Now is the time for all of us to consider organizing and supporting a viable third party! If not now, WHEN?

  6. AliciaP. says:

    And don’t believe the ridiculous hype about “longstanding” and “status quo” regarding the restriction of access to abortion services either. Hyde was a tacked on part of legislation that had to be voted on every year and could be over turned but, not now. Obama has made it permanent and services for women cost more under these plans, abortion coverage is extra on top of that. For women in abusive situations either as teenagers with an abusive parent or with an abusive spouse this is horrible and will indeed cost lives. It is heinous that he is parsing words to call it “status quo” When right now as it is these services are covered under most plans as part of the coverage. Not after this bill has passed and it will make it even harder in the future for those most in need to get help.

    Women put in harms way for Romneycare to pass. I am livid!

    • Mary Grace Farley says:

      For information, executive orders aren’t permanent. They can be overturned by another president. I am not sure whether there are other ways. Single payer advocates need to join with progressive women to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which is the legal basis for this abortion restriction. The “status quo” forces the poorest of the poor women in America, our military women (and families) and others to pay for abortion themselves, leading to later and more dangerous abortions, extraordinary financial and personal stress, and essentially forced childbearing when they can’t access abortion due to these roadblocks. I think it is as bad as the forced abortions in China — two sides of the same coin.

      We need to overturn Hyde to clear the path for single payer, which will deliver all healthcare to everyone. If abortion is excluded from single payer under the Hyde precedent, it may as well be illegal. Rise UP!

  7. allen says:

    I am glad it is done. Not because it is worth a s**t but because I hope that the dust can settle and all those dedicated supporters who where putting so much time and effort into its passage can now shift their efforts toward support for the Real Public Option – Medicare buy in for anyone who wants. Sign the petition and MAKE Congress vote.
    http://salsa.mydccc.org/o/30019/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=17

  8. Jim Carpenter says:

    I understand the bill expands Medicaid to families, even to single people, up to 133% of poverty. Also the federal government increases Medicaid payments to the states and starts taxing investment income above $200,000 ($250,000 for families) with a 3.8% Medicare tax. It also raises Medicaid pay rates for primary care doctors to equal Medicare reimbursemnt rates. Someone tell me why these things are not good. It appears that alot of my students in school will become eligible for coverage under Medicaid. That’s fantastic!

    No, it’s not Single Payer. But it is still a historic step in the right direction. I just spoke with John Nichols last night and he agrees as do alot of my progressive friends. No, Noam Chosky is not loosing it. He’s right.

    Lets give some credit to the Dems and continue to work towards Single Payer as the platform of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin calls for.

    • John Barker says:

      Yes—but were any of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation paying any attention to the Wisconsin Democratic Platform when they voted for the healthcare “reform” bill? Senator Feingold our “progressive” senator sent me a form email with the following statement: “Without your sustained efforts, the insurance companies would have won. But they didn’t”. I’m sorry, but I am absolutely pissed. What good were our efforts to get HR676 Expanded and Improved Medicare For All a part of the Wisconsin Democratic party platform? I don’t want to vote for Feingold but the alternatives are unthinkable.

      While I am on the topic of alternatives to support, I am wondering if Healthcare-Now should post a list of progressive Congressional candidates for single payer advocates to support? For example, on page 7 of the March 29 issue of the Nation there is an ad for Dr. David Gill. He says he is a long time member of Physicians for a National Health Program and that he is the House Democratic candidate for the 15th District in Illinois. I would rather send my $20 to support Dr. Gill than a PINO like Feingold but I would feel more confident about it if he were backed by a respected organization like Healthcare Now.

  9. Skipper Hammond says:

    I too am glad the game is over, and maybe now all those earnest people who kept working so passionately for less and less at every step of the game can set their eyes on real victory, Medicare for All. The strategic question before us right now is how to address the anger of right wing populists who think Obama has just forced socialism on our healthcare system. (If only!)

  10. KC says:

    ARE YOU SERIOUR? READ THE ARTICLE! IT DOES NOT ADDRESS THE MAJOR PROBLEM WHICH IS RISING HEALTHCARE COSTS. READ THE ARTICLE! WE WILL PAY HIGH PRICES FOR LOUSY COVERAGE. INSURANCE FIRMS WILL BE HANDED AT LEAST 447 BILLION DOLLARS OF TAX PAYER MONEY TO SUBSIDIZE THE PURCHASE OF THEIR SHODDY PRODUCTS” THATS MORE MONEY THEY WILL USE TO HIRE LAWYERS TO FIND MORE LOOPHOLES IN AN ALREAdy LOOPHOLE FILLED LAW.

    SCREW THE “DEMS”. THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. THEY ARE THE MAJORITY. IF THEY WANTED WHAT WE WANT WE WOULD HAVE MEDICARE FOR ALL. YOU CONTINUE TO GIVE THEM CREDIT WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO GIVE BILLIONS AND EVEN TILLIONS TO WALLSTREET, INSURANCE COMPANIES AND BIG PHARMA.

  11. Michael Lyon says:

    SF Gray Panthers Newsletter, April 2010

    Health Reform? Off the Table.

    First single-payer was off the table. Then a public option anyone could use was off the table. Then the Medicare buy-in was off the table. And negotiated drug prices. And cost controls. And .. And…

    Most of us are angry, and whipsawed back and forth between pessimism and optimism. The health bill is a gigantic bailout for insurance, drug, hospital, and doctor industries, forcing us onto private insurance, while at the same time forcing down the value of that insurance and making us pay more out-of-pocket, and taking five hundred billion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years. Our optimistic side says maybe 30 of the 50 million uninsured will get insured in four years, though many won’t be able to afford it and will choose to pay extra taxes instead. Many of us have children barely able to keep a roof over their heads, maybe they’ll qualify for Medicaid, though Obama wants to cut Medicaid costs. And what if this awful health bill failed? These thoughts drive us nuts.

    It has been a very bitter pill to see how marginalized we are. Deep down, we hoped or expected that once business realized the cost of insurance-based healthcare was unsustainable, our day would come, and our plan of removing insurance companies would be taken seriously. We were wrong.

    The truth is we do not have a movement that’s capable of mounting a serious threat to the functioning of the economy or government, through strikes, sit-ins, or occupations. We do not have the General Strikes that forced the government to cough up Social Security. Nor the emerging sit-ins and marches against Jim Crow racism that forced them to cough up Medicare and Medicaid. We cannot expect different results until we have the kind of movement, that can, and will, stop the gears for long enough to inflict serious pain.

    Is healthcare more of a human right than food, when a quarter of US children are food-insecure. Is healthcare more of a human right than housing, when families with kids wait for months for shelter beds in San Francisco? What about education?

    We need to stop asking for our needs to be on the table. We need to kick the table over.

    short link to this post: http://wp.me/p3xLR-nL

  12. Eric Ganguly says:

    This new health bill is an absolute travesty as it handed to the health insurance, big pharma, and hospital industries a massive bailout( which they shouldn’t have) at the expense of the American people. What we really need is a true single-payer medicare for all universal health care system not the Massachusetts plan which the Democrats for the love of God have adopted, however I think the Political will in this country is low, and what we need in orer to achieve true progressive reform is a 1960’s style civil disobedience movement in order to relinquish corporate control of our government and make our government truly by the people and for the people!!!

  13. Anna says:

    Single Payer/Public Option NOW!

    • Ken Sandin says:

      Anna – Single payer/public option? What could that mean? The problem with “public option” is the word “option”; that is, you could choose either a publically financed health program or a privately financed one. The latter is the disaster we have now, which has demonstrated it can neither deliver health justice (equal access to health care) nor control costs. Why should that option even be at the table?

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] a socialist would believe anything.) Read two sober, if angry, analyses of what’s in store for us here and here. The AFL-CIO, on the other hand, calls the bill a “momentous step toward comprehensive […]

  2. […] are some of the most problematic parts of the bill as described by the group Healthcare-NOW! (which supports a Medicare for All […]

  3. […] Medicare-for-All Advocates Say Bill Fails to Meet Needs of People by Healthcare-NOW! […]

  4. […] touch government is with the people. For more than a decade Americans have simply wanted improved Medicare for all and removal of the unnecessary insurance industry. Instead, President Obama and the Democratic […]

  5. […] are some of the most problematic parts of the bill as described by the group Healthcare-NOW! (which supports a Medicare for All […]