Ralliers: Cover everyone for less

By Mike Hall for cnonline.com

Calling the 83 people who sat on the statehouse lawn Saturday “the core activists” whose job will be to spread the message, David Goering and others urged support for a national single payer health insurance plan.

Goering, medical director of the Health Care Access Clinic, served as master of ceremonies for the two-hour rally under the shade trees on the south lawn of the Statehouse.

Occasionally the crowd was urged to sing along with new lyrics to some 1960s and 1970s protest songs. For example, the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” proclaimed, “It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.”

The health insurance reformers sang the same tune, but the words came out, “It’s time we stop, people, how absurd. Fifty million people uninsured.”

Vashti Winterburg of Lawrence, one of the organizers, told the crowd the Congressional Budget Office has estimated a Medicare-like health insurance program for all Americans would save $350 billion a year. “I think this is the deal of the century,” she said.

Richard Heckler, also of Lawrence, said there is a lot of misunderstanding about what HR 676 would do. That’s the bill that would create a single payer system.

“It’s not socialized health care; it may be socialized health insurance,” he said.

One of the sponsors of the event was Physicians for a National Health Program. According to a statement on its Web site, the $350 billion in savings would come from eliminating private insurance companies’ paperwork.

“The potential savings on paperwork are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do,” according to the PNHP statement. “Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy.

Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.”

1 Comment

  1. MOCKBADOC on June 2, 2009 at 1:05 am

    So you want to make everybody’s health care look like Medicare, right? Well, I hope I won’t interfere with the purpose of this site if I inject a bit of factual information into the discussion.

    Medicare is a disaster. Patients hate it. Doctors hate it. It doesn’t cover nearly what it should. The government, in the effort to stop the bleeding from an untenable system, has been threatening for years to cut physician reimbursements by 20%. This year it is almost sure to happen.

    Routine parts of the examination for many older Americans (like occasional EKGs for heart disease) are no longer reimbursable under Medicare. Their answer to our complaints that we’ve invested our own money in order to provide this necessary service to our Medicare patients? Too bad.

    When the government finances health care, there are only two ways to control costs (and demonstrate good stewardship of taxpayer funds): cut services or cut participants. Just like the insurance companies, the government has discovered that the easiest way to control costs is to simply cut doctor reimbursements.

    How long do you expect family doctors like myself to continue to operate at a loss? How long do you expect us to pay off our $200,000-plus debt on an ever-diminishing income? I must assume you don’t care. You are all focused in on the plight of the uninsured, right? Well, what do you plan to do when it becomes financially untenable for the PCPs like myself to see your “expanded Medicare” patients? You will either have to deal with a critical physician shortage (like Germany, Sweden, etc.) or you will have to force us to see the patients. You will face either failure or slavery of providers.

    I invite you to think ahead about the consequences of your propositions. It’s all well and good to speak in perfunctory terms about “how great it’d be if everybody was happy and healthy and safe and rich”. It’s quite another to actually guarantee this sort of dream.