Still Not My President, Healthcare Availability and Cost: Action #6

Universal healthcare is a dream of many in the United States, the ONLY developed country without it. Not only the ACA but existing Medicare and Medicaid programs are being attacked by the Republican administration and Congress. This started happening even before Congress officially began it’s session.  Nevertheless, you can still fight against it and make your views known.  

A link to the ACA successes: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-obamacare-charts-20170104-story,amp.html

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Universal Healthcare (UHC) “means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.” All United Nations member states have “agreed to try to achieve UHC by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.” ww.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs395/en/

Whether one views UHC as a goal is like the glass half full or half empty perspective. If you’re in the Adam Smith school of government to provide only defense, law and order, and the most basic infrastructure, you’re probably a Republican these days and not in favor of UHC. If, however, you believe the role of government is to also provide a safety net for those who need it, adequate education and training for a sustainable life, and a strong infrastructure, you are probably a Democrat and strongly in favor of UHC. It’s interesting to note that the U.N. sees it as a sustainable development goal, which puts the U.S. in the same category as developing nations. In spite of the fact we don’t have UHC, our healthcare costs are very high. We spend over 2 1/2 times as much as the majority of developed countries and we do NOT have the best healthcare in the developed world. See this link for more details: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries/

Congressional Republicans have vowed to dismantle the attempt the Obama administration made toward UHC, that was watered down by Republicans, but seen by many as a step in the right direction, although in need of some fixes. Not only is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under siege by the Republicans and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, but Medicare and Medicaid are also.

See this column for more information: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/opinion/the-gop-health-care-hoax.html?mc=edit_nk_20170105&nk=true&nl=nickkristof&nlid=66464745&te=1

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, thus the leading Republican there, first introduced the voucher plan (not unlike what is being proposed for public education) in 2011. Medicare beneficiaries would buy insurance using vouchers at a specific amount set according to region provided by the government from either the fee-for-service Medicare or private insurers. If one chose a more costly option than the voucher amount covered, the insured would pay the difference; likewise if they paid less they would get a rebate. Sounds simple enough, but what if the healthiest or wealthiest seniors chose private plans, leaving Medicare with the poorest, sickest people thus causing those rates to rise disproportionately? In essence this is privatizing healthcare putting Medicare in competition with private companies.

When Price was a Representative, he proposed the Empowering Patients Act. See this article in Forbes for more details on that: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2016/12/04/tom-prices-health-plan-doesnt-let-insurers-impose-pre-existing-condition-exclusions-sort-of/#74b10f5c68a1 Basically, if one had continuing insurance coverage, you would be mostly OK, but if it had lapsed for any reason or you didn’t have insurance, watch out. As well, premiums could be raised up to 50% for 3 years.

Private plans are for profit, thus the quality of healthcare is in question, and the advantages of those now covered by the ACA with pre-existing conditions or high cost drugs would be lost.

One argument against UHC often heard is denigrating Canada’s single-payer system, also called Medicare. The majority of those arguments are false. See: www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-03-2012/myths-canada-health-care.html

UHC and the best way to implement it in any nation state are complex. Nevertheless, government is not a business. Privatizing the functions of good governance is an oxymoron. Once privatized, the ideals of “good” governance are defeated, and it becomes a capitalist free-for-all.

For additional information see: https://www.verywell.com/understanding-healthcare-reform-2615382; www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/us/politics/donald-trump-medicare-republicans.html?_r=0; www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/opinion/trump-is-going-after-health-care-will-democrats-push-back.html; www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/opinion/the-medicare-killers.html; www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/our-bodies-our-trump/507131/; time.com/money/4565468/womens-health-care-president-trump/

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