Health Care for All-San Luis Obispo is sponsoring a forum to give local residents and voters an opportunity to refocus on better, more sustainable health care reform than the one that passed earlier this year. This event features the Mad As Hell Doctors, including Dr. Margaret Flowers of “The Baucus 13” who was arrested last year for trying to get single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all on the table for consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.
Immediate effects of this year’s federal health care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, include the ending of denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and the elimination of lifetime caps. Seniors will get a “donut hole” rebate, new insurance plans must include preventable care and more young adults will be covered by their parents’ plan. These provisions are a step in the right directions, but much more needs to be accomplished.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act falls short in many areas. It does not control costs, and millions will continue to be without health insurance coverage. Further legislation is needed to control costs and thus assure sustainability.
All Americans should receive coverage automatically. Co-pays and deductibles should be completely eliminated. The possession of health insurance should not be tied to employment.
Compensation to doctors should be improved and made more equitable. Patients should not be limited to medical care providers on their insurance company’s panel. They should have complete choice of physicians and hospitals. Better legislation would also reduce insurance companies’ interference with our medical care.
The California Universal Health Care Act (SB 810) and Improved Medicare-for-All (HR 676) are proposed state and federal legislations that would provide the provisions above that are not included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The proposed bills do this by making the government the single-payer for all care, just as it does for Medicare now.
These two bills contain features wanted by 59 percent of physicians and 70 percent of voters, yet the bills continue to founder and fail to get a vote or an open hearing because of the immense lobbying efforts of “big pharma” and the private health insurance industry who are against the bills. These bills would all but eliminate the private health insurance industry as we know it and would also control pharmaceutical costs.
Huge profits are at stake. The profit margin of the pharmaceutical industry is three times the median of the Fortune 500. Administrative costs and profits of the private health industry are 30 percent of premiums versus 3 percent to run Medicare. Having an improved, Medicare-for-all with no private health insurance would save $400 billion nationwide or $47 billion in California alone. These amounts would provide medical care to the uninsured and less expensive care to those already insured instead of profits to the insurance companies.
Fear is also a major barrier to the changes still needed: fear of change, fear of not being re-elected and fear of words and sound bites loosely associated with fact. Voters need to surmount this fear and raise their voices for single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all now.
It is imperative that we become better informed and deal with the fear preventing us from claiming universal access to health care as a human right. The primary goal of the Mad As Hell Doctors is to dispel misinformation, to better inform Americans and to conquer fear. For more information, visit www.madashelldoctors.com and www.pnhp.org. Forum set
Health Care for All-San Luis Obispo is sponsoring a forum at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Ronald Lapp is a retired family physician living in Paso Robles. He is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program and Health Care for All California.