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"Of all the forms of inequality,
injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

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All Our Healthcare Programs are in Jeopardy

ALERT!  ACTION REQUIRED!

Expect an assault on healthcare in the coming Congress.   According to a Congressional staff member, that assault could come as soon as January 4th through the Budget Reconciliation process.  

Last year, Congress defunded the ACA through the Reconciliation process as well as defunding Planned Parenthood, but President Obama vetoed it.   The veto protection will no longer be in place.

Here is what to watch for:

Affordable Care Act:

Look for Congress to defund the subsidies for insurance purchases on the exchanges as well as reduce the penalty for not having insurance to zero.  The effect will be the collapse of the exchanges, driving premiums, co-pays and deductibles even higher.

Medicaid

Look for Congress to defund the expansion of Medicaid and turn it into block grants.   Block grants allow the states to make their own rules, which will cause many to lose coverage.  Rarely do block grants keep up with inflation, so this could lead to the eventual elimination of the program.

Medicare

Look for proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher program for those under age 55 to purchase insurance on a special exchange (sound familiar?).   Apparently, Congress does not think people over age 55 have siblings, children or grandchildren that they care about and will be satisfied that they have theirs.

Vouchers will not keep up with inflation and previous analysis of Paul Ryan’s proposal showed that in too many cases, seniors could be spending up to 60% of their income on health care. 

The goal is the eventual elimination of this program.

Employer Provided Health Benefits

Look for Congress to reduce or eliminate the tax credits business gets for providing health care benefits, making it fiscally impossible for businesses to continue offering health benefits and pushing more people into the individual market.  

WE MUST PROVIDE THE BACKLASH AND WE NEED TO START NOW!

It is up to us to provide the backlash against these proposals.   The best way to do this is to have a strong offense.   We must:

  • Make Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump own this.
  • We must pick up the phones and call them and our own representatives and senators to tell them in no uncertain terms that this is unacceptable to the American people.
  • We must also demand the solution:   Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.  
  • If staff indicates they don’t know the viewpoint of the Representative or Senator, ask them to find out and give you a call back.   Make them take down your name and number.
  • Call back in a few days if you have not heard back from them.
  • Keep calling.  

Phone calls are more effective than emails or postcard campaigns.

Postcards, letters and emails are simply sorted according to broad topics and then a standard response is sent.   Phone calls require staff members to listen to the actual topic at hand.   Calling disrupts normal business and will eventually evoke a response.  

Rob Portman

Washington, DC office:   202-225-3031

Cincinnati office:  513-684-3265

Cleveland office:   216-522-7095

Columbus office:  1-800-205-6446

Toledo office:  419-259-3895

Paul Ryan

Washington, DC office:   202-225-3031

Mitch McConnell

Washington, DC office:  202-224-2541

Viewpoint: Injustice in Health Care

The “profits-first, market-based health care system” left an ED patient with a debilitating stroke because he couldn’t afford the co-pays for follow-up care or the medication to keep his blood from clotting in his atria. Dr. Cotton explains. Read More

2016 Annual Conference a Big Success; Dr. Brad Cotton receives Smiddie Award

Attendance was up from the previous year and participation in the Workshops was enthusiastic. Goals were set for the coming year, and it was announced that effective June 1, 2016, SPAN Ohio will become a membership organization. The benefit of this is that a foreseeable stream of income will allow SPAN to budget more effectively toward achieving our goals.

Dr. Brad Cotton receives Smiddie AwardAnother feature of the Conference was Beth Amoriya's presentation of the Bob Smiddie Health Care Justice Award to Dr. Brad Cotton of Circleville, OH. Brad is an ER physician who constantly champions his patients, the poor. He is a prolific writer and draws deeply on his faith and experiences as a former EMT, nurse, and now ER physician.  Brad also developed and donated the Eyes Wide Open display to SPAN Ohio and has been a steady supporter while never looking for a pat on the back. Congratulations, Brad!

Athens activist Arlene Sheak holds giant birthday card celebrating Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security - See article . . .

The Athens News

Sunday, May 17,2015

 

Community members, officials rally for Social Security and other programs

By David DeWitt

 

A large crowd of community members and elected officials gathered at the Athens County Courthouse last Wednesday to wish a happy birthday to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This year, 2015, marks the 80th anniversary of the passage of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

The Athens County Commissioners, Athens City Council and Nelsonville City Council issued proclamations, while a number of other speakers shared personal stories about how the various programs have impacted, and even saved, their lives.

The event was organized by Athens County resident Warren Haydon, who noted in opening remarks that one in three county residents receives benefits from at least one of the three programs.

He cited figures showing that more than 15,000 county residents, mostly elderly, receive Social Security benefits, while a similar number of residents use Medicaid, and about 9,500 get Medicare benefits.

Resident Carolyn Fisk of New Marshfield told the audience about the long illness of her husband and how Medicare was a crucial factor in handling the bills.

Francine Childs, Ohio University professor emeritus of African-American studies, called health care a human right.

"Civilized people provide resources for other people," she said. "We are civilized."

A total of 17 speakers provided testimony in support of the three programs, while cake was also served, and large cards were available for people to sign. Haydon said the cards will be on display at various libraries in the county.

Haydon quoted President Franklin Roosevelt during the signing of the Social Security Act of 1935.

"We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law that gives some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job, and against poverty-ridden old age," Haydon quoted Roosevelt.

Haydon argued against those who would push to cut benefits related to these programs, or otherwise reduce access to them by, for instance, raising the retirement age for Social Security.

"We don't need these programs cut. We don't need current or future recipients to have their benefits decreased," he said. "If anything, they need to be increased."

County Commissioner Lenny Eliason read a proclamation sharing the numbers of Athens County residents benefitting from the programs. He said that without Medicare, many of these elderly citizens would face a lack of health insurance and bankruptcy.

Pastor Robert Martin, of the First Presbyterian Church of Athens, paraphrased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who said, "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

"I'm here to celebrate with you today these programs that ensure that we care for the most vulnerable in our society, which is, in the end, all of us," he said.

Various candidates for U.S. President in 2016 have proposed cuts to some of these programs.

On the Republican side, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, from Texas, for instance has proposed raising the retirement age and transitioning younger workers to a personal savings system. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has said the same about personal savings systems, also sharing his position that he'd like a "fair tax" system to replace payroll taxes.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, from Kentucky, has proposed raising the retirement age gradually, allowing an opt-out, and called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, has said benefits have to be less generous, and the retirement age should be raised for those currently under 55.

On the side running for the Democratic Party nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given support to the idea of increasing the payroll cap but not if it taxes the middle class. She's also called for a bipartisan commission.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, an independent running for the Democratic Party nomination, has rejected privatization, and said that despite rhetoric coming from Republicans, the program is not going bankrupt. He voted in favor of strengthening the Social Security trust fund lock box.

Bullet Points for Legislators

  • Single Payer saves money.  For the past 20 years, states have commissioned studies on different types of health care systems.   In EVERY case, single payer was shown to be the only way to cover everyone and the only system that saved money and controlled costs.

  • Publicly financed does not mean government run health care.  YOU have publicly finance health coverage, but the government does not make decisions regarding your health care.

  • Cost conscious patients often don't get the care they need.   Most decisions are made by the doctor in concert with the patient, but the patient relies on the doctor's knowledge to make a decision.  Expensive tests and treatments cannot be ordered by the patient, only the doctor.

  • Lifestyle choices are not what is fueling high costs in health care.   The United States ranks low in general health indicators, but high in good health habits.  We smoke less, drink less and consume less animal fat that many other countries with better health indicators and much lower health care costs.

  • Businesses can accurately determine their health care costs and are not subject to unanticipated large premium increases.

  • It will reduce labor costs due to a more efficient way of financing health care, eliminating much wasteful administration.

  • Workers' Compensation costs will be reduced, likely by half, due to the fact that everyone has health coverage and there is no need for the medical portion.

  • It reduces the need for part time employees and provides easier recruiting.  There are no pre-existing conditions or Cobra issues.

  • Eliminates the oversight of health benefits and bargaining health coverage with employees.

  • It creates healthier personnel and more stable employees, reduces absenteeism and eliminates employer health coverage complaints.

  • It reduces employee health related debt and personal bankruptcies.

  • It frees up family income that can be spent on other goods and services, thus stimulating the economy.

Tips for Writing Letters to Editor

Follow guidelines for your local paper (word count, submission instructions, etc.)

Frame your letter in relation to a recent news item Use state specific data whenever possible (let us know if you need help finding some!)

Address counter arguments

Be aware of your audience and emphasize how Medicare for All is good for ALL residents of the state

Criticize other positions, not people Include your credentials (especially if you work in the healthcare field)

Avoid jargon and abbreviations

Don’t overload on statistics and minor details

Cover only one or two points in a single letter

Avoid rambling and vagueness

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Donations to SPAN Ohio help cover operating and lobbying expenses and ARE NOT tax deductible.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • FIXIT Healthcare Movie & Discussion Mon. 19 Dec, 2016 (5:30 pm - 8:00 pm) Location: DaytonMetro Library Vandalia Branch Community Room   Fix It is a documentary that goes deeply into the hear...
  • SPAN State Council Meeting Sat. 4 Feb, 2017 (10:00 am - 1:00 pm) First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus - 93 W Weisheimer Rd - Columbus, O - Room 7 (W Weisheimer Rd is off High...
  • SPAN Annual State Conference Sat. 29 Apr, 2017 (10:00 am - 4:00 pm) Quest Business & Conference Center, 8405 Pulsar Place, Columbus, OH 43240
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