Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Conyers' plan to cover the uninsured

In keeping with Cover the Uninsured week, here's information about John Conyers' Congressional Forum - Universal Health Care with Single Payer Financing - held in Washington today to educate and enlighten his Congressional colleagues about HR 676.

And here's some background to explain details of the single-payer plan from The Nation:
More than 47 million Americans are now living without health coverage. Representative John Conyers's United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676) would create a single-payer healthcare system by expanding Medicare to every resident. All necessary medical care would be covered--from prescription drugs to hospital services to long-term care. There would be no deductibles or co-payments. Funding would come from sources including savings from negotiated bulk procurement of medications; a tax on the top 5 percent of income earners; and a phased-in payroll tax that is lower than what employers currently pay for less comprehensive employee health coverage. [...] To get involved, check out www.Healthcare-Now.org.
There are currently 62 co-sponsors of HR 676, including Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan, and almost 260 union endorsements in 40 states. Some of Michigan's unions throwing their support behind the bill include:
Local 6000, United Auto Workers (UAW), Michigan State Employees, Lansing, MI
Branch 3126, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), Royal Oak, MI.
Local Lodge 141, International Association of Machinists (IAM), representing airline workers at Northwest, United, Southwest, and Alaska. Detroit, MI
Local 547, International Union of Operating Engineers, Detroit, MI
Jackson/Hillsdale Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Jackson, MI
Five Michigan steelworker locals endorse HR 676 too. The growing union support isn't surprising. Unions have traditionally bargained for and delivered good health insurance for their workers and families, but downsizing and off-shoring in manufacturing industries has resulted in workers losing their insurance altogether or being forced to pay more for less.

It's not just union workers facing health insurance insecurity though. From TPM Cafe:
26% of Americans say there has been a time in the last 12 months when they have been unable to afford necessary health care for themselves or a family member. Support for extending health care to all Americans trumps any tax-phobia: 66% of Americans favor "the government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes."
There's still a lot of doubt a single payer system could surmount the special interest group lobbyists, but Congressman Dennis Kucinich thinks it has a good chance:
It is true that large corporations, who are currently making millions every year off the backs of every American who pays for health care, will fight hard to protect the unsustainable status quo as long as they possibly can.

But with health care costs rising faster than inflation with no end in sight; and with the abject failure of managed care to contain those costs; and with the number of uninsured growing steadily; and with American companies losing their competitive edge because they are paying so much more for health care than other developed countries; the opposition will not be able to hold justice at bay for much longer. So when people tell me that national health insurance is the right answer but is not politically feasible, I tell them that the opposite is true. Passage is inevitable - it is only a matter of time.
Another argument against public programs like Medicare is that private insurers are just more efficient, but that's simply propaganda according to Jonathan Cohn at TPM Cafe:
It works as propaganda because it’s consistent with the public’s deeply held skepticism of government. But it’s just not true. And this week Wall Street gave us yet more proof of that.

It happened yesterday after Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurers, released its first-quarter earnings report. Earnings were up more than 3 percent – the kind of news that, one might suppose, Wall Street would greet with glee. Not so. Shares actually plummeted...by more than 20 percent.

Reason: Aenta’s medical loss ratio was going up – i.e., that it was spending more money on its patients – provoked a sharp rebuke from Wall Street.
The amount Aetna paid for covered services divided by the amount of premiums collected was 79.4%, up from 74.6%, but as Cohn points out:
"About 98% of the money that goes into the Medicare program comes back out as medical services - in good part because the program doesn't siphon money for marketing and profits. But, then, Medicare doesn’t have to satisfy investors. It has to satisfy voters. Big difference."
Absolutely, but I have a feeling when it comes to people's health that voters want every dime possible directed toward providing care, not delivering for the investors, which probably explains why 66% of Americans favor the government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes. People know that Medicare has been a government success.

If you like Conyers' plan and believe that establishing a universal health care system is essential to resolving our nation's health care crisis, click here to sign his petition and support the passage of H.R. 676.

UPDATE: Click here to get more information about the Executive Summary of The United States National Health Insurance Act (HR676).


abi said...

Can't believe we still don't have a universal health care system in this country.

Thanks for this post. Petition signed.

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Praguetwin said...

Where can I get more detailed information about the plan?


Kathy said...

Abi, thanks for signing. Washington should have done something about this a long time ago, but those darn insurance lobbyists keep influencing the powers that be. That's why we need to vote out of office any politicians who blocking this or failing to respond.

Praquetwin, I updated the post and added a link where you can get more information. Click on the www.Healthcare-Now.org link in the body of my post too.

Kathy said...


"we need to vote out of office any politicians who keep blocking this or fail to respond."

Praguetwin said...

Thanks Kathy.