YUUUUGE thanks to the South Orange County (CA) Democratic Club for having me speak last week on the subject of “The Status of #SinglePayer #MedicareForAll” at the federal and state levels. A spirited discussion took place as seems to always be the case in public arenas on this issue. Also, club members were invited to join our local PDA Orange Co CA Chapter and many of them signed up to do just that.
Of particular interest to participants was the news that the new federal #MFA bill under the stewardship of Rep. Pramila Jayapal WA07, is now ready for introduction and the formal presentation planned for Wednesday February 27, 2019 with a press conference at 11a EST in the outside area of the Capitol Building in Washington DC known as the House Triangle. PDA’s own Capitol Hill team expects to attend.
They were excited also to hear that Rep. Jayapal had reached the targeted 100+ original cosponsors desired to carry sufficient influence on their fellow House members to clearly earn hearings by the various committees of jurisdiction in the House. And many more cosponsors are expected to join after the bill is dropped as well.
The discussion then quickly turned to what might be expected as opposition to MFA, especially coming from the entrenched monied interests, most notably from big insurance and big pharma. This led to talking about what it is exactly that makes the idea of MFA so incredibly popular at this time.
Why is it so needed and wanted? What are the basic elements that can’t be subject to compromise? What has been proposed that can be recognized as subversive to the basic principle and therefore should be rejected offhand? And what needs to be done to advance the cause of MFA and #HealthcareJustice?
First, we reviewed the crisis of American Healthcare: That even since full implementation of the ACA, there remains about 10% of the population or about 30 to 40 million Americans with no health insurance at all, and that number is now rising as the Trumpublicans manage to further subvert that bit of progress seemingly almost daily. And, that almost a full third of Americans remain underinsured, and therefore subject to the whims of especially big pharma and big insurance that given one especially bad illness or accident, we are all at substantial risk of medical bankruptcy, still the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America.
We also reviewed the accepted science that it is known that with a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system for any state or for the whole country, we are likely to save substantial amounts of money and preventable deaths, about 1,000 lives for every 1 million uninsured per year, and over $1 billion for every 1 million in the population per year.
So for example in California, we could save about 4,000 lives and $40 billion per year, or nationally about 40 million lives and $400 billion per year. This now increasingly popular idea will lift the US into good standing with the other advanced countries of the world where we now rank about 37th in overall health outcomes including longevity, infant mortality, and maternal mortality which are all getting worse here in the US of late, not better as elsewhere in the world and as previously was the case here as well.
The essential elements to achieve this savings of lives and money, necessarily includes the removal of waste, fraud, and abuse primarily imposed on us by big pharma and big insurance. With over one third of every healthcare dollar spent on insurance claims processing, CEO pay, advertising, and predatory pricing of drugs and other for-profit entities, we by necessity must eliminate private health insurance and implement bulk purchasing capability for drugs and medical devices at the very least. Also, helpful will be to control hospital and provider charges by moving to full global budgeting and standardized billing as well as quality of care standards that currently exist for Medicare.
What needs to be recognized as most definitely not MFA would be any fixes or half measures that institute more “Medicare for Some” such as a public option, buy-ins, or any remaining copays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket expenses. Neither also would further Medicaid expansion or a “Medicaid for All” be considered a suitable replacement for MFA as Medicaid has inferior standards for both quality and reimbursement for care compared to Medicare.
This is why Medicaid is all too commonly refused by physicians and considered vastly inferior to the needs of most who may consider longer wait times and fewer treatment options to be untenable or literally unlivable. Compromises such as this would undermine if not even make worse the inequity and injustice of our present crisis.
Finally, what needs to be done is to continue to pressure our elected representatives both at the state and federal level to see that expanded and improved MFA is the bare minimum to undo the wrongs we are all dealing with, and what is needed is bold leadership to effect these bold changes.
We need more group discussions like the one we had this week at the South Orange County Democratic Club, more town halls and forums, movie showings, and canvassing to further raise awareness so that we and our friends and family can “call BS” to the propaganda that big insurance and big pharma and their Trumpublican tools try to throw our way. And we need PDA in coalition with our fantastic partner groups like NNU, Healthcare-Now, PNHP, and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer to get the support from all of us needed to continue the fight for MFA and #HealthcareJustice.
Dr. Bill Honigman
PDA is proud that two of the most renowned healthcare organizers in the USA are part of our family: Donna Smith, formerly our Executive Director and currently the Chair of our National Advisory Board; and Dr. Bill Honigman, our national staffer and California State Coordinator. These two stalwart, effective spokespeople make regular personal appearances at events, on TV, radio, and in print. They also lead our Healthcare is a Human Right issue team.
PDA is part of a national coalition organizing support for the new Medicare For All Act of 2019. We need your help now to keep Donna and Dr. Bill mobilized for this fight; and that will require funding. Along with giving, you can also help out by contacting your member of Congress and urging them to become an original cosponsor of Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare For All bill. This legislation would guarantee all medically necessary care including—in patient, out patient, surgery, hospitalization, emergency, mental, dental, vision, hearing, medical devices, tests, supplies, pharmaceuticals, therapy, long term, rehabilitation, preventative care—and more. All with no out-of-pocket costs. No copays, no deductibles, no fees, no costs of any kind.
This is the best healthcare legislation in our nation’s history. Please do all you can to ensure a powerful launch with as many cosponsors as possible. Pitch in to support the mobilization, and call Congress: at 202-858-1717 to urge your Representative to cosponsor Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare For All legislation. Also please pitch in $1000, $100, or whatever you can afford to support our organizing for Medicare For All.