Posts Tagged ‘health care delivery’

by John Sparks

There was no Senate vote on the single-payer health care amendment on the floor December 16, thanks to the parliamentary obstruction of amendments by Republican senators in their battle to prevent any and all health care reform this year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attempted to introduce his Medicare-for-All, single-payer health care substitute amendment, but when he requested the usual unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the entire bill, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected, and under Senate rules, clerks were obligated to read aloud the entire 700-plus page amendment – a process that would have consumed nearly eight hours.

After 2 hours and 43 minutes, Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment in order to allow the Senate to proceed with other business in the dwindling days before the Christmas recess – but he then gave a rousing, blistering speech on the Senate floor, condemning the insurance cartel, anti-reform obstructionists in Congress, and promising that the day will come when America has true universal healthcare.

Had Sen. Sanders’s amendment been allowed to proceed to debate and vote, it would have been the first time a complete single-payer plan had been considered on the Senate floor, a milestone in the history of nearly 60 years of effort to reform the nation’s health care system.

Sanders was proposing the amendment as a substitute for the compromise bill put together by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats, and supported by the Obama Administration. That bill has been so watered down in an effort to please enough Senators to reach the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster that some progressives now say (more…)


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Merlyna Adams of Louisiana sported a large round button on her lapel as she addressed reporters at a press conference yesterday. The button simply said: “I am not frivolous.”

Merlyna and eight families who have fallen victim to medical malpractice traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask their members of Congress to oppose proposals that would limit patients’ legal rights in the health care reform legislation.

Merlyna is a school principal whose medical treatment for a kidney stone in 2007 led to a lengthy stay in a hospital’s intensive care unit, congestive heart failure, renal failure, pulmonary failure and amputation of both her hands and her legs below the knee. (more…)

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By David Arkush

Arguing with the likes of the Manhattan Institute about medical malpractice litigation isn’t much fun anymore. We’ve proved them wrong time and again, and it looks like they’re running out of gas. The Manhattan Institute’s latest piece misrepresents our analysis and accuses us of an odd mistake: responding to arguments about medical malpractice litigation in the terms in which they are made.

A little history: For years, enemies of the courts – doctors, liability insurance companies, and groups like the Manhattan Institute – have argued that a torrent of frivolous lawsuits against doctors have been driving up the costs of medical care. As everyone knows, medical costs have skyrocketed, with yearly spending increasing from $1.2 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the last ten years alone. The dream of these court deformers was to pin with the problem on lawsuits. But the math just doesn’t work. We’ve shown year after year that medical liability, even generously defined, is a tiny fraction of overall health care costs. Currently it’s at historic lows – just 0.58 percent of health care costs – while those costs are still skyrocketing.

With the evidence overwhelmingly against them, many deformers have changed the subject. They talk about so-called “defensive medicine,” which has extremely little empirical support – meaning that they can (more…)

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Filmmaker Michael Moore gave an impassioned plea for single-payer health coverage at a press conference today at our offices in Washington, D.C. His message for President Obama and members of Congress was rather simple: Give us single-payer, universal health coverage now, or feel the wrath of the voters come election time.

If President Obama would support a single-payer plan, tens of millions of Americans would flood the streets to support him, Moore said. “We will be there with you, every step of the way,” Moore said. “We have got your back.” It’s time to start over with a plan that includes single-payer, Medicare-for-All, he said. “Just hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board.” (Moore outlined what is missing from current health care proposals in a Huffington Post article.)

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, who introduced Moore, said it’s time to end the current, broken system:

It is appropriate that filmmaker Michael Moore returns us to first principles, because the big picture of health care reform has been so badly obscured during the political theater of the past many months. Those first principles are: Health care is a right, and the private health insurance industry must be replaced. It is too cruel, too inhumane, too arbitrary, too bureaucratic and too inefficient.


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A few weeks ago, we warned you that Congress might become distracted by lobbyists seeking to shield negligent doctors and hospitals from accountability. Today, at least 23 amendments to the health care bill would do just that, weakening our right to hold negligent providers accountable when they cause severe permanent injuries or death.

In fact, the woefully inadequate health care bill introduced by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) already endorses money for experiments with substitutes for the civil justice system. (more…)

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Two weeks ago, tens of thousands of people on Facebook updated their status messages to reflect their views on health care reform. This is what I posted: “No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. Demand single-payer, universal coverage for all. If you agree, post this as your status all day.”

The reality is that many people do die because they can’t afford health care. And now, a new study in today’s American Journal of Public Health says the numbers are a lot higher than we thought. The study estimates that 35,327 to 44,789 people between the ages of 18 and 64 die in the U.S. each year because they lack heath insurance. That’s more than double the previous estimate made by the Institute of Medicine in 2002. (more…)

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Mention the prospect of government involvement in health care to many Americans and they will give a skeptical response.  In his column in today’s New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof asks a great question: Why should we look at a government system any differently than a public fire or police department? Private fire insurance companies fought fires until the mid-19th century, and it was not a pretty picture. Government-run fire departments are much better.

The truth is, those who now receive health care through government programs (think Medicare, veterans hospitals) are more satisfied with their coverage than those paying for private plans.  Kristof gives some numbers to prove this:

Fifty-six to 60 percent of people in government-run Medicare rate it a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale.  In contrast, only 40 percent of those enrolled in private insurance rank their plans that high.

It is only because of the power held by the health insurance industry that many continue to think that government-financed health care is such a bad thing. Kristof points to several factors that show how single-payer health care (essential Medicare-for-all) would be more cost effective and provide fair quality coverage for everyone.

A study by the Rand Corporation concluded that compared with a national sample, Americans treated in veterans hospitals ‘recieved consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and followup.

Under a single-payer system, the government would collect pay all health care costs. Insurance companies — and their penny-pinching ways and denials of coverage — would be out of the picture. This means all Americans would get equal and quality health coverage.  In the end, care would be based on need not how much you pay, which is the way it should be. You have the power to tell Congress that a change needs to be made here.

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Who said health care reform is hard to understand? Andy Lubershane at Earthly Comics did a great job of explaining how our system works (or doesn’t) and why opposing universal care because it is  “socialism,” as if that’s a bad thing, is just plain silly. (Hat tip to The Worley Dervish)

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This morning, Howard Dean spoke to the crowd at Netroots Nation ’09 to address health care reform. Unsurprisingly, Dean’s talk consisted mostly of touting the Democratic “public option” plan for health care and talking points bloggers should repeat to push that compromise plan through Congress.

Now, there are lots of single-payer fans at Netroots. Outside the convention center in Pittsburgh, a number of protesters have been carrying signs promoting John Conyers’ (D-Mich) single-payer bill, HR 676. Inside, many of the bloggers and advocates I’ve spoken with have expressed their preference for single-payer over the Democrats’ proposed half-measures.

So it’s no surprise that when Dean confessed that he thinks single-payer should not have been off the table and that the Democrats’ proposal should have been a single-payer plan, the conference hall lit up with applause.

Of course, should have/could have/would have only goes so far. Single-payer still needs your support. Urge your Congress member to support HR 676 today!

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Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen’s acting president and director of its Health Research Group, at the rally for single-payer health care held last week near the Capitol.

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