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Green Party urges GAO, Congressional Budget Office studies on Single-Payer health care

Past federal studies on Single-Payer show it will provide universal care while cutting costs, say Greens, who seek a nationally aired debate on the merits of Single-Payer

Green Party leaders and health care activists called for new federal studies on the economic feasability and impact of a Single-Payer (Medicare For All, HR 676) national health care program.  The study should cover overall and ongoing costs and savings, not just government spending.

Greens cited past studies from the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office in the 1990s showing that Single-Payer would reduce the cost of health care while covering every American.  The Green Party will make health care reform and the demand for Single-Payer a major focus of the party’s 2009 Annual National Meeting in Durham, North Carolina, July 23-26 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=222).

According to a 1991 GAO report, “If the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer, as in Canada, the savings in administrative costs [10 percent of health spending] would be more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage.” (“Canadian Health Insurance: Lessons for the United States,” http://archive.gao.gov/d20t9/144039.pdf).  More reports are archived at pnhp.org (http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_system_cost.php?page=all).

“The overall savings we’d gain from Single-Payer will boost the ailing economy and will cut bankruptcies by nearly two thirds,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States, who noted a recent Harvard study showing that “Medical problems contributed to nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of all bankruptcies in 2007” (Physicians for a National Health Program press release, June 4, 2009, http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/june/illness_medical_bil.php).

“The ‘public health care option’ supported by Sen. Kennedy and many other Democrats will leave the private insurance industry intact and lead to increased health care spending, especially if mandates lead to big taxpayer-funded subsidies for insurance and HMO companies and the high overhead they add to health care spending.  We challenge Congress and President Obama to consult the GAO and Congressional Budget Office on the costs and benefits of Single-Payer,” said Ms. Grage.

The Green Party has challenged Sen. Max Baucus and other Single-Payer opponents to hold a public debate, broadcast nationally, with Single-Payer advocates (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=221).  Sen. Baucus has received more campaign money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries over the last four years than any other Democrat in Congress — $413,000 since 2005, with only Republicans John McCain and Mitch McConnell receiving more (http://www.Consumer Watchdog.org).

Greens said that such a debate is urgently necessary because of the lies and distortions about Single-Payer and health care reform coming from the Wall Street Journal (http://mediamatters.org/blog/200906160005), Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, and other opponents of health care reform.  See also “Debunking Canadian Health Care Myths” by Rhonda Hackett, The Denver Post, June 7 (http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_12523427).

“Apologists for profit-making insurance companies are dishonestly trying to paint Single-Payer as expensive and radical.  In fact, Single-Payer is more fiscally conservative, because it’ll eliminate the high overhead of private insurance.  Secondly, Single-Payer allows full choice of physician, which will restore the American tradition of family doctors who get to know their patients’ health care needs.  Instead of an insurance company or HMO bureaucracy restricting treatment and referrals, Single-Payer will bring back the days when patients and physicians made decisions about medical care,” said Justine McCabe, Connecticut Green, clinical psychologist, and co-author of statewide Single-Payer bill, 1999-2000 (http://www.gp.org/speakers/detail.php?ID=35).

“And finally, under a Single-Payer plan, no one will suffer financial ruin because of medical expenses,” said Dr. McCabe.

“Unfortunately, President Obama and congressional leaders insist that we all spend more money on health care, with taxes on health-care benefits, to pay for ‘reform’ that would still leave tens of millions uninsured and underinsured.  At the same time, they don’t want Americans to hear about the benefits of Single-Payer — even though they admit it would save money, cover everyone, and give us the right to choose our doctors,” said Angel Torres, co-chair of the Maricopa Greens (http://maricopagreens.org), which held a Single-Payer rally in front of the office of Arizona Rep. Harry Mitchell on May 30 to persuade him to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 676.


Audio clip: Lynne Williams, Green candidate for Governor of Maine, speaks at a May 30 rally for National Health Care at the State House in Augusta http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/audio-maine-green-party-gubernatorial-candidate-lynne-williams

“Health Professionals Tell Congress They Want Single-Payer”
By Jeff Muskus, The Huffington Post, June 10, 2009

Posted by: Ian Wilder

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