“Right now the rest of the developed world is spending less money and getting better health care,” said Marcia Angell M.D. testifying for Single-Payer Health Care at the Senate Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Hearing.
Health Insurance is on the national agenda because it’s breaking the national economy. But it is also a highly personal and individual problem. Are you worried about your health care? If you are, stay healthy. It’s your best option. Healthy people can buy health insurance. Anyone deemed a risk by the insurers pays higher costs for the same coverage. People who are ill often lose their health insurance.
Entering the debate is Physicians for a National Health Plan, a single-issue organization dedicated to education and advocacy for comprehensive, universal, single payer health insurance. Founded in 1987 by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, both primary care physicians and both professors at Harvard, PNHP now has 17,000 members, 900 in the Los Angeles area. (www.PNHP.org)
Santa Monica physicians Matt Hendrickson, Gene Oppenheim, Geoff White, Nancy Greep and Steve Tarzynski, joining thousands of American physicians frustrated by insurance companies getting in the way of providing good care for patients, started a Santa Monica chapter of PNHP. Sheila Kuehl, the author of the groundbreaking bill for single payer in CA, twice passed by both houses of the CA legislature and twice vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, spoke at their first event.
Dr. Hendrickson, says, “We need single payer. We are the only developed nation with a for profit health insurance system. The current proposals in the House and Senate bills do provide some relief. They will remove pre-existing conditions as an opportunity for health insurers to refuse coverage and there may be a public option open to some people. At the same time most Americans will be required to buy insurance, which will hugely benefit the insurance companies.” ([email protected])
“Tragic and touching,” is how Dr. Hendrickson characterized his volunteer work at the Forum for the RAM (Remote Area Medicine) event. “People waited all night, sleeping on bleachers that had been set up in the parking lot, for a chance to get free medical service. This was a sad first for California and we must do better.”
“The American health system is uniquely expensive and inflationary. Last year we spent about $2.5 trillion on health care and costs are growing much faster than the background inflation rate. Our system is unsustainable. And, if that weren’t enough, we don’t get anywhere near our money’s worth.” said Dr. Angell, PNHP member, Harvard Medical School Faculty and former Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine.
The Health Insurance debate is central to our nation’s economic future and to our personal futures. In this country with its well-trained physicians, its great medical schools and its impressive history of contributions to medicine, we have every reason to expect the best in health care. But we need more than training the best doctors; we need the best access.
Speaking to that point, on May 5, 2009, Dr. Margaret Flowers and seven other doctors went to D.C. The Senate Finance Committee had convened a round table of 15 experts. PNHP had requested a seat at the round table and Committee Chairman Senator Baucus had refused. He did not include any advocate for single payer. So they went to our nation’s capitol to testify. Not only were they not allowed to speak, they were arrested. You can watch the un-American spectacle of Senator Baucus calling in the Capitol police to arrest the physicians as they stood at the hearing and requested to speak to the committee. (YouTube)
Our president said, on July 22, 2009, “I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is unless you have what’s called a single-payer system in which everyone’s automatically covered, you’re probably not going to reach every single individual.” Barack Obama
What Say You? Are you healthy?
Do you worry about health insurance?
What do you think we should do?