Quote-of-the-day mailing list
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Subject: qotd: Sen. Bernie Sanders on single payer
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2013 11:50:21 -0700
From: Don McCanne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <email@example.com>
September 10, 2013
A single-payer system makes economic sense
By Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Americans spend about twice as much per capita on healthcare as almost
any other developed nation, but our outcomes are not as good as others
that spend much less. We can do better. We must do better.
Today, some 50 million Americans lack health insurance. Many others
delay going to the doctor because of high deductibles and unaffordable
copayments. While the number of uninsured Americans will go down with
the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as
ObamaCare, tens of millions of Americans will remain uninsured.
The goal of an effective healthcare system is to do everything possible
to enable people to live long and healthy lives. Sadly, the American
system fails to do that and falls behind many other countries. While we
devote 18 percent of our gross domestic product to healthcare, we rank
33rd in life expectancy and 34th in infant mortality, and trail in many
other health outcomes. A Harvard University study indicated that,
incredibly, some 45,000 Americans die needlessly each year because they
do not get to a doctor in time.
I start my approach to healthcare from a very basic premise: healthcare
is a right, not a privilege. Unfortunately, uniquely among major
nations, that statement is not true for the United States, where access
to healthcare depends on how much money you have and what your employer
is willing to provide.
It is simply unconscionable that the most advanced nation in the world
has so many people who lack health insurance. It makes no sense that
millions more are one diagnosis or car accident away from financial
disaster. And, despite the trillions of dollars we spend on healthcare,
the disparity in the quality of care between the rich and everyone else
Our system doesn't make economic sense, and it certainly doesn't make
moral sense. In a civilized, democratic society, every man, woman and
child must be able to get the medical care they need regardless of income.
It is incomprehensible that drug companies still get away with charging
Americans twice as much — or more — than citizens of Canada or Europe
for the exact same drugs manufactured by the exact same companies. It is
an outrage that insurers still want to hike premiums by as much as 60
percent a year on individual policyholders.
It boggles the mind that approximately 30 percent of every healthcare
dollar spent in the United States goes to administrative costs rather
than to delivering care. Taiwan, for example, spends only a little over
6 percent of its GDP on healthcare, while achieving better health
outcomes on some key indicators than we do. The reason, of course, is
that they spend a fraction of what we do on administrative costs.
If our goal is to provide high-quality healthcare in a cost-effective
way, what should we be doing?
Clearly, we must move toward a single-payer system.
The health insurance lobby and other opponents of single-payer care make
it sound scary. It's not. In fact, a large-scale single-payer system
already exists in the United States. It's called Medicare. People
enrolled in the system give it high marks. More importantly, it has
succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over the age
Establishing a single-payer system will mean peace of mind for all
Americans. When health insurance is no longer tied to employment, people
will not fear losing both their job and their family's access to
healthcare. Millions of Americans won't have to stay in jobs they don't
like because their family needs healthcare. Entrepreneurs and small
businesses will be free to develop their business plans without worrying
about the cost and complexity of providing healthcare for themselves and
For these reasons and more, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and I have
introduced the American Health Security Act, which would guarantee
healthcare as a human right and provide every U.S. citizen and permanent
resident with healthcare coverage and services through a
state-administered, single-payer program.
I am very proud that my home state of Vermont is now taking big steps to
lead the nation in healthcare by moving forward on a plan to establish a
single-payer healthcare system that puts the interests of patients over
corporate profits. The American Health Security Act would make sure
every state does the same.
The goal of real healthcare reform must be high-quality, universal
coverage in a cost-effective way. We must ensure, to as great a degree
as possible, that the money we put into health coverage goes to the
delivery of healthcare, not to paper-pushing, astronomical profits and
lining CEOs' pockets.
Comment: Although the nation is distracted with the implementation of
the Affordable Care Act, the single payer concept is not going to go
away. Soon the nation will understand why.