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Green Party: America needs Single-Payer, not the public health care option

•Greens blast Democrats, liberal caucuses in Congress, unions, and health care advocacy groups that have backed away from Single-Payer in favor of the public option

• Sen. Baucus and other Democratic and Republican foes of Single-Payer are taking big money from the private health insurance/HMO industry; Greens cite likely 84% reduction in administrative costs only possible through Single-Payer’s public finance-private delivery plan

Green Party leaders and health care reform activists said today that the ‘public health care option,’ promoted by many Democrats, is not an acceptable alternative to a Single-Payer/Medicare For All national health care program (HR 676).

The Green Party of the United States has endorsed the national Day of Action (http://www.healthcare-now.org/campaigns/may-30th-day-of-action) for Single-Payer national health care on Saturday, May 30 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=212).

Party leaders sharply criticized Democratic politicians, health care advocacy groups like the Health Care For America Now coalition and Maine People’s Alliance, unions, and liberal and progressive caucuses in Congress (http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/04/28-25) that have backed away from demanding Single-Payer in favor of the public option.

The so-called public health care option is an attempt to confuse Americans who actually want Single-Payer.  The ‘public health care option’ leaves the for-profit insurance and HMO industry intact and in charge, with expensive segregated and multi-tiered coverage designed for maximum complexity and minimum efficiency.  The public health care option constitutes political malpractice.

Greens call insurance companies and HMOs the principal reason why the US spends far more money for a ‘sick care’ system that performs worse than all other industrial countries’ health care programs.

“Democrats in Congress are killing real health care reform by insisting on a dominant role for insurance companies.  A public option alongside numerous private insurance and HMO plans will not curb the high cost of coverage.  Single-Payer will cover all Americans in a single insurance pool, with comprehensive health care for all and full choice of physician and hospital, while cutting administrative costs to the tune of $400 billion,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the national Green Party.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program, “[o]ver 31% of every health care dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc.” in private coverage, and has estimated a reduction of 84% in administrative costs under Single-Payer (http://www.pnhp.org/facts/singlepayer_faq.php).  The public health care option cannot guarantee any such savings, because private coverage would continue to exist.

Single-Payer, argued Greens, will also give government the leverage to negotiate and reduce the cost of medicine and medical technology.  The public health care option will not allow such negotiation and will not stem the rising costs of health care.

Another danger, warned Greens, is that a multi-option system would result in many employers shifting their health care benefits plans to the less-expensive public option, which would already cover many working Americans and older, poorer, sicker, and at-risk populations.  The resulting strain will lead to a demand to privatize public insurance and to huge taxpayer subsidies for private insurers.

“It is absolutely inevitable that additional taxpayer subsidies would be required to pay for private plans, whether through tax credits, tax deductions or vouchers.  It is morally wrong to require taxpayers to subsidize inferior private health plans when they could be replaced with a superior, more efficient public insurance program — an expanded and improved Medicare for all.” (Physicians for a National Health Program blog, http://www.pnhp.org/blog)

Greens noted that the health care industry recently sabotaged an announcement from President Obama that insurance and other health care companies had pledged to trim the rapid growth of health care costs (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601110&sid=ai_lzQQmWn3U).  The promised reduction over ten years would have slowed the expected 6.2% per year increase by 1.5%, too negligible to have an effect on Americans’ health care expenses.  However, the health care industry decided that even this amount was too much (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/health/policy/15health.html).

Greens called this a sign that insurance companies and allied industries will not cooperate in any effort to cut health care costs and expand coverage.

“Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus, who keeps insisting that Single-Payer is off the table, took $183,750 from health insurance companies and $229,020 from drug companies in the last two election cycles.  Many of his fellow Senators and Representatives have taken similar contributions (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09).  The health insurance and HMO industry wants to kill reform so they can continue to enlarge their profit margins by excluding Americans and by overcharging and restricting treatment for those who do have coverage,” said Starlene Rankin Co-chair, co-chair of the Lavender Green Caucus (http://www.lavendergreens.us).

MORE INFORMATION

Green Party information page on Single-Payer http://www.gp.org/organize/sicko.html

Physicians for a National Health Program on the public health care option
http://www.pnhp.org/facts/singlepayer_faq.php#public-option
http://www.pnhp.org/facts/singlepayer_faq.php#public-option-right-direction

Interview with Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen and Dr. David Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program, Bill Moyers Journal, PBS, May 22, 2009
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/05222009/watch2.html

“We Spend Twice as Much on Health Care as Other Rich Countries — and What Do We Get for It?”
By Dean Baker, AlterNet, May 19, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/140098

“Baucus Flees From Single Payer Advocates”
Single-Payer Action, May 21, 2009
http://www.singlepayeraction.org/blog/?p=726

One Response

  1. Single-Payer is the single most important thing we can do to fix our economy and restore our manufacturing base.

    No more money to insurance companies.

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