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Issue Position: Why a National Single Payer Health Care System is Best for All

Issue Position


Our health-care system is irrational, expensive, inequitable, inefficient and wasteful, and I strongly believe that quality, affordable health care is a fundamental human right and not a privilege. My priority is to help enact comprehensive health care reform for universal quality health care that improves both the efficiency of the healthcare system, American competitiveness, and most importantly improves the health of all Americans.

Our nation is held back by the inefficiency of our healthcare system, and together we can create a truly compassionate and efficient system that will boost our economy and improve our health.

Our Failed Health Care System Cannot be Fixed with Incremental Reform

Some Facts:

* Only 60% of companies offer health insurance to their employees, down from 70% in 2000, while employees are paying higher co-pays and deductibles than ever before.

* Premiums have almost doubled since 2000.

* Medical costs are spiraling out of control and last year almost 11 million of the insured spent more than 25% of their income on health care. As a result, more than half of all personal bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses- the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.

* Without reform, it is estimated that health care spending will double to about $4.1 trillion within the next decade.

The problem, simply put, is we don't get a bang for our buck - we pay more and get less. We pay six times more per person on administrative costs than similar nations and more than 25% of our health care labor force works in administration. We have fewer physicians, nurses and hospital beds per capita than the average industrialized nation. And prevention and public health programs - which are nearly always cheaper than treatment--represent only 4% of our spending and adults receive recommended care only half the time.

My program: Healthcare for All

Incremental health care reform cannot solve this crisis. What we need is bold action: Replace the current patchwork with a comprehensive, universal, single-payer, equal-access system that ensures high-quality health care insurance for each and every American.

That is why I support Healthcare for All:

* Medicare, a universal access, single-payer, government-administered, publicly financed and efficient program, has high patient satisfaction and only 3% administrative expenses - less than any private insurance plan. While there are many improvements we need to focus on within Medicare, it serves as a model of a single-payer healthcare system.

* Healthcare for All is a publicly funded, privately delivered health care system that extends similar coverage as the Medicare program to all Americans of all ages, from birth through the end of life, regardless of their employment, income, health status, pre-existing condition, or any other factor.

* This single-payer system combines a private health care delivery system with public financing, creates a common risk pool, protects the doctor-patient relationship, and severs the ties between employment and health care, making insurance truly portable; entrepreneurship and innovation will increase as employees will no longer be forced to remain with their employers solely because they can't risk losing their healthcare for their families.

* Only the federal government has the ability to create one large risk pool, by adding a payroll tax. While state-based single payer programs such as that proposed by Health Care for All Colorado, can be good steps, only a national program can reap the full benefits of single payer.

* All Americans will receive the full spectrum of medical services, and will have the freedom to choose physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics and practices; the emphasis will be on prevention and a holistic approach to avoiding disease.

* A family of four with a median income of $56,200 will spend 35% less on health care than under an employee health plan: About $2,700 per year. A family of three with an income of $40,000 would pay $1,600 a year for health care coverage. Almost all (95%) of families would pay less and receive the same or better benefits.

* The average business will pay significantly less, too. A 4.75% Medicare payroll tax for employers will cover all program costs. The average business will pay $2,700 for a family of four with a median income, compared to $8,510 average employer share now. Relieving businesses from the sky-rocketing premiums for employee and retiree health insurance would help strengthen American competitiveness in the global marketplace and remove an incentive for outsourcing jobs, as well as lead to increases in salaries for working families.

* Healthcare for all means reduced administrative overhead costs, lower emergency care costs, simplified billing, streamlined claims management, lower prices through bulk purchasing, and improved provider coordination, resulting in savings of more than $350 billion per year - more than enough to cover the uninsured and underinsured.

* By focusing on patients and not profits, Healthcare for all will put an end to health care discrimination, penalizing the sick, discouraging prevention, distracting doctors with bureaucratic tasks, and risking families with financial ruin.

* With a national single payer, private provider model we can finally replace our costly paper medical records systems with an electronic national electronic health information and records system with the highest privacy standards so doctors and nurses have the correct information at their fingertips.

For More Information

There are many organizations and resources available if you're interested in single-payer health insurance. Here are some:

* Health Care for all Colorado

* Physicians for a National Health Program

* National Health Care for the Homeless Council

* Business Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare

* Healthcare NOW

* Medicare for all - See also this article in The Nation

* Wikipedia balanced background on single-payer

* Summary of HR 676

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