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676= Healthcare for Everyone-NOW!

By admin | July 15, 2006

676= Healthcare for Everyone-NOW!
June 7, 2006

June 7th, 2006 was a unique and historic day. It happened once, and only once, that 6/7/6corresponds with the identifying numbers of the bill introduced in Congress by Representative John Conyers: HR 676 “The United States National Health Insurance Act” which is the extension of Medicare—that truly American–truly red, white and blue program—plan to every person living in this nation, regardless of immigration status.

So, that day advocates all over the nation demanded, in different ways, the passing of this bill. There were, for example, press conferences in front of City Hall in Atlanta GA, Saint Louis MO,; demonstration in front of an insurance companies in California, Gainesville, Florida, Pittsburg. In Seattle, there were distribution of information at the Mariners’ game. In many states highways and bridges were adorned with “676 national healthcare” banners; there were Citizen/ Congressional Hearings in Tyler, TX, Newark, DE, Bangor, ME, Atlanta, GA where people can talked to their members of Congress.

And in Capitol Hill there was the first meeting of the newly formed “National Health Insurance Caucus” chaired by Congressman Conyers; Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., will co-chair.

In New york City there was a large celebration with elected officials and union leaders where the new animated film “Don’t Be a Chicken” about healthcare–which explains the issue in an entertaining way–was debuted.

Invited Speakers Includeded: NYC Councilman G. Oliver Koppell. Union officials Lillian Roberts, Barbara Edmonds. Health care advocates Dr. Oliver Fein, Dr. Jaime Torres, Marilyn Clement, and Reverend Yearwood.

We are proud to publish below the important remaks of Dr. Fein, which where one of the highlights of the evening:

Good Evening!

My name is Oliver Fein. I am the Chair of the New York Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program – P N H P. Physicians for a National Health Program is a national organization with 14,000 physician and medical student members that supports universal access to health care through a single-payer financing system – an improved and expanded “Medicare-for-All” program for the United States.

Many of you are familiar with Physicians for as National Health Program – P N H P. But, for those of you who have not heard about us, I would like to tell you more. Physicians for a National Health Program was founded in 1989. As a national organization, we have been in the forefront of research and analysis of the changing U.S. healthcare system. It is our members that have documented the huge administrative costs of the U.S. healthcare system (close to 25 to 30 % of all national health expenditures) as published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

We did the research that showed that more than 50% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. were due to medical care expenditures.

The Physicians’ Proposal published in the August 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association was a fundamental building block for Representative John Conyer’s “Medicare-for All” bill, HR 676.

And, today, press releases just went out to announce the publication of an article in the June issue of American Journal of Public Health, by Drs, Karen Lasser, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, which shows that U.S residents are less healthy and have less access to healthcare than Canadians.

Our Metro New York chapter of PNHP, with close to 1,000 members, covers a broad geographic area including the 5-New York City boroughs, northern New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island. We hold monthly educational forums at the Beth Israel Ambulatory Care Center at Union Square on topics ranging from the Malpractice Crisis to Immigrant Healthcare.

We have a speaker’s bureau that provides speakers not only to medical Grand Rounds, but also to labor unions, senior citizens centers and church groups. Over the last few years, we have debated the AMA trustees on healthcare reform over 10 times. We are an activist group, supporting health reform contingents on significant public demonstrations and leafleting movie theaters with our single-payer solution after the film John Q, which illustrated the lack of access in the U.S. healthcare system.

We are actively working actively with medical student groups and residents throughout the metropolitan area. On all 8 of the New York Metropolitan medical school campuses, Metro NY PNHP has a student affiliated chapter or committee. Metro-NY PNHP is a local New York organization. What is the biggest threat to health care reform in New York State? We believe it is the Massachusetts approach to Universal Coverage. If the Democrats win the governorship and control of the NYS Senate, there will be the enormous temptation to adopt a plan resembling the Massachusetts Plan. What are the essential elements of the Massachusetts plan?

  1. An employer mandate to buy private health insurance
  2. An individual mandate to buy private health insurance
  3. Subsidies and tax incentives to buy private health insurance
  4. A modest expansion of Medicaid for the poor

What’s wrong with the Massachusetts Plan?

What’s at the root of all these problems?

What’s really wrong with the Massachusetts Plan is the virtual total reliance on private health insurance to reach the goal of universal coverage.

Everyone knows what’s wrong with private health insurance!

The administrative costs of private health insurance are too high. Medicare as a single-payer spends only 2-3% on administrative costs. But, private health insurance spends 16 to 30% of all premium dollars on administrative costs, including payments to the company’s high paid executives, it’s bureaucracy and it’s investors.

Just today, Crain’s Pulse sent a fax reporting that William McGuire, the CEO of United Healthcare, was paid $8 million dollars last year; and other health insurance CEOs were paid between $3 and 5 million dollars.

Private health insurance costs too much: Employers are shifting more and more of the premium costs onto employees. The major reason that labor unions strike is around health benefits. Private insurance is covering less and less – like a hospital gown which leaves the derrière exposed – private insurance doesn’t cover a lot of the important things – preventive care, dental care, mental health care, long term care, prescription drugs.

In order to remain competitive, private insurance companies avoid the sick and recruit the healthy. Even doctors have problems with private health insurance companies, because they delay paying doctors and hospitals, so they can make money by investing the premiums they collect.

Our mantra should be: “Get the insurance companies out of my health care.” How can we stop this steamroller designed to get NYS to ape the Massachusetts Plan?

1. Fight for the NYS Legislative Commission on Healthcare Access.

2. Petition the NYC Council and the County legislatures throughout the State to pass resolutions supporting HR 676, John Conyers bill for “Medicare-for-All”

3. Warn Democrats and other liberals that the false promises and ultimate failure of the Massachusetts Plan will come back to haunt them in the future.

What we need is an improved and expanded “Medicare-for-All.”

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