News & Opinion

The host of Politics Done Right says "Single-Payer Medicare for All will increase taxes but you should want that."

OpEdNews Op Eds 9/14/2018 at 17:21:35

By Egberto Willies 

I got a call from a Politics Done Right listener who said he heard that Single-Payer Medicare for All would increase the taxes of most people and it would increase government expenditures. I told him that in fact, it would raise taxes for most but that is not the whole story. To be clear, every individual will be better off for precise reasons.

Here is an absolute statement. If one entity is paying our medical bills, it is much more efficient than having multiple companies do it. Let's say we have 100 health insurance companies. When you add that each company has to have its own executives, a board of directors, advertising budgets, capital costs, computer equipment, accountants, risk managers, and a myriad of other expenses, it illustrates what we actually see, expensive insurance. If there is one payer that covers everybody, Single-Payer Medicare for All, then all those duplicated costs go away, and some functions are virtually unnecessary.

Private insurance companies also have shareholders. Shareholders demand dividends and ever-expanding stock appreciation at a higher rate than inflation or a higher rate than the expanding economy. That is one reason among many others why health insurance rates increase faster than inflation. This same issue applies to pharmaceutical companies who raise rates not to create better drugs but to ensure better value for their shareholders and corporate bonuses.-

I gave the caller a hypothetical example for illustrative purposes to counter the fallacy that somehow Single-Payer Medicare for All is detrimental to the individual. The opposite is true. Again, the numbers I am using are just for illustrative purposes as the real numbers are dependent on the basic services that will form part of the new system.

A family making $50,000 may pay $5,000 in Federal Income Taxes and $12,000 in health insurance -- that $12,000 goes to an insurance company. That insurance usually has anywhere from a $500 to $10,000 deductible. There are traditionally copays associated with it as well. So even with this insurance and level of payments, if one uses health care, they can still be relegated to bankruptcy. In effect, out of pocket expenditures for health care and taxes can leave little for all other standard household and living expenses.

Single-Payer Medicare for All simplifies everything and cost less in the aggregate. That same person would still pay that $5,000 in Federal Income Tax. They may then pay, who knows, $5,000 in health care taxes. The taxes would actually be progressive, meaning if you make less you pay less. If you make more, you pay more. Every single American would have access to health care without concern for deductibles. One could actually plan their life without the fear of worrying that if they get sick their entire outcome changes including the possibility of bankruptcy.

Some balk at this as being too utopian. Where is the money going to come from? First of all, doctors' offices will no longer have to have large staffs to handle the fight with dozens of insurance companies. That means lower cost for office visits. Additional money comes from not having to pay shareholder dividends, overpriced executives, bonuses, and all the duplicate expenditures we spoke about earlier. But that is only the beginning.

As you move towards Single-Payer Medicare for All, we must start other reforms. It won't be easy because all of the stakeholders, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, etc. will fight to keep their cash cow.

Most drugs are not discovered or designed or invented by huge pharmaceuticals who continue to loot the middle-class. They are created with NIH grants at Universities and elsewhere. When it is time to formalize them as drugs for the masses, capitalists buy and then overcharge for these drugs. Ironically, the government, you the taxpayer who paid to develop the drugs in the first place, do not partake of the profits. Drug companies want large rewards, large profits, with no real risk. We must rein this in sooner rather than later.

Many doctors leave school with hundreds of thousands in debt. We must institute some sort of merit system that allows doctors to go to medical school for free and then pay it forward by dedicating some years in the public sector. We must regulate hospitals to prevent them from charging inordinate rates just because they think they can.

Our health care system needs a complete revamping. It is inefficient and immoral. We must first understand that capitalism and the market do not work in health care delivery. There are very specific reasons beyond the scope of this post why that is true. The transition must begin now. It must include support for all of those who will lose jobs as inefficiencies are extricated. But we must get started now.

SPAN State Director Debbie Silverstein (bandaged knee) pictured with fellow honorees at UHCAN Ohio annual tribute event in Columbus

Each year UHCAN Ohio honors outstanding leaders who assure access to affordable, quality health care in Ohio at its "Lend Your Voice - Health Care for All." They also celebrate the collective work that health care advocates have done to protect our care nationally and across Ohio.

2018 honorees are:

  • Deanna White- Health Care Advocate, Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
  • Tammy Mentzel, MPH - Project Manager, Transformation of Mission-based Health Care through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,  University of Cincinnati
  • Lateef Saffore, PhD, MS - Senior Health Policy Consultant- Cleveland
  • Debbie Silverstein-State Director, SPAN Ohio
  • Robert Brown- Consumer Health Care Advocate- Cincinnati
  • Kathleen Gmeiner, JD, MHSA- Health Care Advocate- Columbus

 

2018 Winners of Smiddie Award

At each annual conference, SPAN Ohio grants the Smiddie Award to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the struggle for health care justice. This year's winners are Dr. Matthew Noordsij-Jones and Dr. Katherine Lambes who practice medicine and advocate for health care justice in the Dayton, Ohio area. Congratulations and thanks to these two fine people!

BIG PHARMA:MARKET FAILURE - See the movie online

Big Pharma:  Market Failure  explores the problem of extreme drug prices in the US and how drug cost impacts on the public, on businesses and the overall US economy.

This documentary makes an effective business case for realizable change. It digs deep to answer key questions. How much do pharma companies really spend on research and development of truly innovative drugs?  Do "free market" principles impact on drug prices and help control cost? Do the normal rules of business apply to the pharma industry? How do TV ads impact consumers and doctors?

The proposal is to create a solution that makes business sense for employers and health sense for employees. It is a compelling drama that reveals the truth of pharma cost and what we can do about it.

SPAN Solidarity Statement drafted by activist Elisa Lenssen

Elisa drafted the following statement at the request of the SPAN Executive Committee in response to all the divisive rhetoric we've been hearing lately. SPAN Ohio Solidarity Statement.mov

As a community concerned about the health of all Ohioans Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) Ohio strongly opposes any discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, nation of origin,  refugee status, gender or sexual orientation.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said not only that “injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” of all inequalities, but also that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Our destiny cannot survive unlawful bans and bias. SPAN Ohio supports justice in health care and justice for all.

 

Bob Krasen's Columbus Presentation - Read the transcipt

SPAN Ohio Presentation

Bob Krasen

Columbus Plumbers & Pipefitters Hall

January 15, 2017

 

News about health care in the US is now pretty dismal.

            ACA-Obama Care, Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP are under direct attack.

            VA – not exempt from privatization

Not a time to become “weak kneed.”

            Hold up a Medicare Card.

This is what SPAN Ohio wants for everyone, a card that enables everyone to get enhanced Medicare, not just at 80%, but without copays, deductibles, out of pocket costs. Health care would be free at the point of delivery. Medicare needs to be enhanced. This means dental and eye care, long term care. You can choose your own doctors. Care can be received from anyone who is a licensed health care provider.

While we are striving to make this happen for Ohioans, we really want it for everyone in the Nation.

Some may say, “It costs too much.” You understand that 31% of health care dollars are spent on administration. 31% that has nothing to do with helping people get better. You know that a hospital has as many people in their accounting departments as it has beds. You know insurers complain that they can take only 20% of premium dollars for administration. You know that the VA saves at least 40% on it drug costs, by negotiating prices and purchasing in bulk. We can actually spend far less on health care while covering everyone, and join the countries all over the world which have had systems in place for years, and spend half of what we do, either per capita or as a measure of GDP.

I do not have a lot of hope about the prospects of this Legislation, as all inclusive and inexpensive as it is, either on a National or State level. As long as law makers are dependent upon the campaign contributions of corporations, i.e. health insurance, PhRMA, and hospital conglomerates, that is whom members of Congress and State Legislators will listen to. It is tragic that the need for health care services cost the American people so much, they receive so little, and many remain excluded all together. Healthcare in the U.S. has come down to the line spoken in an old western film during a train robbery, "Your money or your life."

To this end, SPAN Ohio is planning a state constitutional amendment –referendum in 2020. We will need every woman and man in the State to accomplish this, talking to friends, collecting signatures, raising money.

Please go to spanohio.org to become a member, and learn more what we are doing.

You can sign a letter today that we will deliver to Senator Portman’s office, or that of your legislators.

You can also Join us on Facebook and Twitter

This is a struggle for our survival…literally.

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