July 29, 2020

Putting my pen where my mouth is

If we don't write letters to our local papers, aren't we kind of welshing on our civic duty to fight for single-payer?

Here's my latest, and yes — repetitive, talking to the choir, yada, yada, yada.

But also keeping universal healthcare in people's faces. 


To the Editor:

           Someone made a great point in a letter two weeks ago on healthcare in this country, that it’s “a patchwork that covers many of us if the conditions are just right.” Whether we get our coverage through a private or job-related plan or through a government arrangement, we’re definitely going to be okay if we have enough cash to cover what’s not picked up. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be happy with the out-of-pocket costs or that they couldn’t be lower in a different system, nor that the roadblocks to services couldn’t be somehow eliminated. It only means that with adequate cash and/or patience we’ll make it through under the current circumstances.

             A staggering number of Americans scrimp on healthcare because they can’t afford comprehensive plans. According to the Commonwealth Fund, 44 million people were underinsured in 2018, way up since 2010 and growing. That’s because at the center of our industry-designed healthcare system, it’s insurance companies who set most of the parameters for the cost and availability of services, equipment and drugs. In their for-profit business models, these companies are beholden not to us, but to their shareholders, and it is stupefyingly obvious that they contribute no administrative or medical service that couldn’t be provided just as well or better without their administrative stewardship.

             The corporate salaries, high lobbying and advertising costs, and duplicative paperwork of these companies are systemic, and burden Americans for no reason. You can’t just tweak this system or offer a public option. New laws have to insure that financial excesses can’t happen. Only legislation can put an end to profiteering off of illness and natural life functions like birth and getting older.

             Medicare for All and the NY Health Act, the single-payer coverage bills at the federal and state levels, are not calling for “socialism” or that practitioners work for the government (as do, by the way, policemen, soldiers, teachers, and public works personnel). These bills aim to create new tax structures — payroll and income-based taxes — so that service providers continue to work for themselves, but in a system administered by government employees and liberated from the agendas of middlemen companies.

             Yes, taxes would go up, but without the burgeoning premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurances in the coverage we have now, it’s projected we’d financially come out ahead. Coverage would be made universal and portable. We wouldn’t have to keep our jobs to keep our coverage, we could choose our providers, and there wouldn’t be any stipulations for pre-existing conditions.

             Why shouldn’t we demand this structural change in healthcare delivery?  No reason. What’s getting in the way are the industry’s colossal advertising, lobbying and think-tank campaigns, misleading polls, and the sanctimonious politics of the 1%.

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