3/8/07

Ths Single Payer Healthcare Solution

CT Blue had a diary up on healthcare the other day in which I left this comment:

I am registered for my VA benefits BUT I don't use them because I am one of the few with a better plan (through my wife's job). I can still safely say that the Canadian system is far better than the private insurance we, personally, have here.

Why? Because we are not rich.

I have lived under both healthcare systems (Canadian and US), and I can't for the life of me figure out how you have let the insurance industry and government treat Americans this way?

America can and should do better.

I could sit here and explain all of the ways the Canadian system is better but that would be a waste of time since there are still those of you that have never lived under both systems and I, too often, hear the mantra of the American system is the best. As CT Blue put it:

"a peculiarly American disease: the belief that America is number one in everything because -well, just because. We are the richest, we have more freedom, we have the best healthcare, we have the best athletes, we have the best of everything. It doesn't matter that most of it's not true, it's an article of faith so we don't question it."

I question it from experience. American healthcare #1? It isn't. It is actually a horrible system of healthcare, especially considering the amount of money we pay for this piss-poor service, and it is not even near the top ten in the world. If you cannot figure this out just from the fact that Americans go to Canada to buy their drugs, and are going to Mexico to seek treatments, then you are completely blind to the failures of the American system.

We pay more money for our healthcare than any other nation in the world, and this is what it gets us:
Rank Country

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America
38 Slovenia
39 Cuba
40 Brunei
41 New Zealand
42 Bahrain
43 Croatia
44 Qatar

45 Kuwait


#37???

Right down around some South American, Dictatorship, and Middle Eastern countries. The richest nation in the world and we are #37 in providing healthcare to our citizens.

Are you proud?

Just another sign that the "The Great Republican Experiment" has failed completely in their drive to privatize, and all it has done is enrich the insurance companies at our healths' expense. And, just like the war in Iraq, some faux patriotic mantra or slapping a flag or a bumprsticker somewhere isn't going to help a bit.

The Black Commentator has been running a great series on healthcare, and today their topic is "Pull the Plug on the Private Healthcare Industry". Here is some unusually large excerpts from this piece but I encourage you to read the entire series at The Black Commentator:
Single Payer Healthcare Part 13

Every year since 1994, the year in which the Clinton Administration failed to reform the health system in the United States (leaving in place the private health insurance industry dominating the healthcare-delivery system), actual healthcare coverage for people in the United States has continued to shrink. Real costs for private health insurance companies and their profits have skyrocketed. Higher co-pays, premiums and deductibles for the Medicare program have been mandated by the prerogatives of the private health insurance industry.

This is the sleazy side of the healthcare crisis in the United States: private health insurance companies charge more for less coverage and benefit shamelessly from the sheer desperation of people who have no other options. In addition, their inordinate impact on the healthcare system in the United States has prevented the publicly funded healthcare system from fulfilling its potential.

As a result of the dominance of the private health insurance industry, people become impoverished, making some eligible for the deficient Medicaid program, or they live with the extreme anxiety of healthcare insecurity until some become old enough or disabled enough to qualify for the deficient Medicare program, and/or they suffer and they die prematurely from no healthcare at all. Remember, 47 million remain uninsured and another 60 million remain anxiously underinsured. These horrible numbers are increasing every year.

snip

The American people can no longer bear this reality. Nearly 70% of the US citizens want a federally financed (single-payer) national healthcare system. The overwhelming majority of physicians are also demanding the single-payer solution to the healthcare crisis in this country. An impressive number of hospital CEOs want it. They are all demanding that the private health insurance industry must no longer have a choke hold on the healthcare system in the United States.

But where are the presidential candidates? With the exception of Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), all want to keep the private health insurance industry in business keeping people sick, economically desperate, and profiting off the people’s misery. The Republican Party candidates are actively attempting to expand the role of the private health insurance industry. What are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards doing?

Well, none of them is advocating single-payer because it challenges the prerogatives of corporate America, a major source of their campaign contributions. When Clinton, Obama, and Edwards speak of the single-payer solution not being politically feasible, they are not referring to the democratic will of the American people. We have spoken through the polls and in the 2006 elections. They should listen and take action. Rather, they are actually talking only about their political careers and their need to remain in the good graces of their financial backers. Wherever we encounter these and other presidential candidates, through banners and letters and phone calls to their headquarters, we need to make perfectly clear to each of them that we want a single payer national healthcare system.

snip

Not only are solid majorities in support of single-payer and against the criminal war in Iraq, the American people now understand the relationship between the anti-war movement and the single-payer national healthcare movement. As a result, the political energy of the people is qualitatively higher than it has ever been since ordinary people dismantled Jim Crow segregation and ended the criminal Viet Nam war.

History is now on our side. But, we can not rest. You can help. Demand that Congress now hold full Congressional Hearings on the Health Crisis in the United States.

Specifically, urge speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman, Charles Rangel D-NY); and Congressman, Pete Stark (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Health Committee, during April, the anniversary month of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; to hold full Congressional Hearings on an Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Residents in the United States (HR 676).


Also contact Healthcare-Now or call us at 1-800-453-1305 so that you can learn of ways in which you can directly support and participate in the historic national human rights movement to guarantee that all residents in the United States have comprehensive world class healthcare and healthcare insurance coverage from cradle to grave.

This is our time in history. Let’s seize it.

Here’s how: For an inspirational 7 minutes, see this little video of Congressman John Conyers talking about how we can win single payer.

About the author: Mr. Sankofa is a human rights public policy specialist and community organizer. He is a national organizer for Healthcare-Now. He is also the strategic planning consultant for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, Legal Defense, Research, and Education Fund. As a former trial attorney, specializing in complex institutional reform litigation, Mr. Sankofa, directed the AIDS Project of the National Prison Project of the ACLU Foundation. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick Maine and the Antioch School of Law. Raised in Washington, DC, Mr. Sankofa now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Click here to contact Ajamu K. Sankofa, Esq. and Healthcare-NOW.



Here are the links to the previous articles in this series, all of which are must reads:

Read the introduction to this series

Part 1 of this series

Part 2 of this series

Part 3 of this series

Part 4 of this series

Part 5 of this series

Part 6 of this series

Part 7 of this series

Part 8 of this series

Part 9 of this series

Part 10 of this series

Part 11 of this series

Part 12 of this series

Part 13 of this series

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