Tag Archive: single-payer

Hey y’all,

I just wanted to make a plug for a push to get single payer health care in Oregon.  There is a bill on the table in the Oregon legislature, and there is a rally to support it in Salem on 3/11:

11-3-11 flyer

I encourage you to support the rally and bill if any of the following conditions apply to you:

(1) You will need healthcare and would like to have it when you need it, or;

(2) You could possibly need healthcare and would like to have it if you did need it, or;

(3) You love or like anyone who either will or may need health care, and you would like them to have it if they need it, or;

(4) You can never get sick, and have no one you love or like, but you are a pretty damned good person anyway, and want people who might need health care to have it.

If you can’t attend a rally in Salem on a weekday (I can’t either), there are plenty of ways to support single payer health care in Oregon, and you can learn more about the campaign, the organizations supporting it, the bill(s) and proposal, etc., here or here.

How else can you help? (From Health Care for All Oregon)

❑ Arrange  a presentation to your civic or faith group or union.

❑ Endorse the bill and campaign. You can find endorsement forms (for individuals, organizations, and businesses) at hcao.org/oregon/aff ordablehealth-care-for-oregon-act

❑ Ask community leaders and organizations to endorse the bill and campaign.

❑ Host an informational meeting for your neighbors and friends, for your civic group or faith community. We’ll send a speaker.

❑ Use Twitter and your Facebook page to let people know about the campaign.

❑ If you have a Web page or blog, link to www.hcao.org.

❑ Distribute copies of this AHCAO flier at events.

❑ Write letters to the editor, contact legislators, and attend hearings in Salem.

❑ Donate money: make checks out to HCAO–Oregon Single Payer Campaign (OSPC), and mail to HCAO, P.O. Box 51422, Eugene OR 97405.


What’s labor supposed to do?

Facing setbacks in health care, a decreasing unionization rate (7.2% in the private workforce) , and the loss of the supermajority they would need to pass EFCA (as if the Democrats were doing something anyway), as well as decreasing public support (41%), unions are in pretty bad shape.  But then again, they had been for a long time.

What should labor do?

A number of things.

First of all, real people have little power in America.  Corporations and people of high means have a lot of pull, and individual politicians have some pull.  Democracy in America is democracy in name only. . . and most Americans know it.  They know that the government does nothing to pull together for everyday Americans and will drop anything to help out Wall Street.  Ironically, though such rabid corporatism comes as a result of the power wielded by corporations over our country, and such power is a natural consequence of capitalism, or the ‘free market,’ extreme right-wingers have built the Tea Party movement blaming government and claiming the ‘free market’ is the solution.  Let me reiterate. . . the people who are a huge part of the problem have grown stronger from the anger against the problems people like them have caused.  Why hasn’t the Left organized?  Why hasn’t labor organized in the face of layoffs?

What the people want–radical, liberal, and conservative–is democracy.  They rightly feel powerless against huge corporations and an unresponsive government–which, whatever head of our two-headed Republicrat Party beast is at the helm, does not seem to care about them.  Forget about business unionism–leaving corporations be, forgetting about ‘class issues,’ and demanding only wage increases.  BE A RABID FIGHTER FOR DEMOCRACY.  What the Obama election has taught us so far is that (1) people want change REALLY bad, and if you give them hope for it they will mobilize, and will carry the day, and (2) you can’t trust ANYONE in our bureaucratized government or the corporations that run it to actually do anything that is substantially good for you.

To reverse a paraphrased dictum from Machiavelli, politicians will do what we want if they love us or fear us. . . and their fearing us is more dependable than their love for us.  And by ‘fear us’ I don’t mean fear an uprising. . . I mean fear that we will impeach every single one, advance our own candidates, fill Congress and the Presidency with OUR PEOPLE.

We want Democracy.  Were unions to radicalize, democratize themselves, and democratize America, the people would love them.


(1) Look inward.  Democratize yourself.  Make each union radically democratic–every single person has a change to make a real difference–no bureaucratized organizing body.  If people thought “I’d have a real say in my union!” that is a good part of what you need to do to change public perception.

(2) Support all workers, even the nonunion ones.  If you always look out for them, get them gains, workers not in a union will be more inclined to join, and more inclined to take your side and have a good perception of what you do.  It will help you organize, and help change public perception even more.

(3) Support even international workers and labor rights.  Corporations are international and organized and you should be, too.  Overseas workers are not your competition naturally. . . they are your allies.  If a corporation leaves American jobs here, and you argue ANYTHING that sounds like “they took our jobs”. . . you’re demonizing exploited workers who are suffering on their end from the actions of a corporation that is ALSO hurting YOU.  You create an “Us versus Them’ mentality against groups of people belonging to the “Us” group.  Remember, it is always corporations and globalization that hurts workers.  It’s really always capitalism, but you might not be willing to say that yet.  Not to mention that if millions of workers here oppose a company, it’s powerful, but if many millions of workers all over the world strike and boycott, it’s AMAZING, POWERFUL, and INSPIRING.

(4) Demand WAY MORE than just wage increases and REALLY COMMIT to it.  EFCA and Single Payer were great goals–you’re starting to see the need to advocate things that help the labor movement and ALL Americans, and that’s great.  But don’t depend on politicians.  Make noise, march, be rowdy and public, make YouTube videos and Facebook pages, have commercials during the superbowl, protest, strike, boycott! Fight the right-wing noise machine trying to make you look bad–make them, their lobbyists, corporations look bad instead!  They do it themselves, but no one calls them out on their tactics or their bullying, let alone their betrayal of America!  And never stop!  Buzz in their ears until they ring 24/7 whether you are there or not–and always let the public know what you’re doing for them.

(5)  Oppose pro-corporate bias everywhere.  You shouldn’t be afraid to call corporations out, to question their very essence and the system they are a part of.  Their bias hurts your true constituency. . . laborers and American citizens!  They have too much power in the workplace and in society.  Whose side are you on?  Oppose pro-corporate bias in the media, in the schools, in political campaigns. . . everywhere!  Stand for something!

(6) Organize! Organize! Organize! Find what industries have low unionization rates, and start there.  Find out what demographics, states, cities, and occupations unionize little, and reach out to them based on their situations, the uniqueness of their jobs, their histories, their values, their cultures.  Treat each group as its own, distinct population–it is!  Conduct studies and hire rhetoricians, psychologists, sociologists, and figure out what barriers to unionization exists in each group, and transcend them!  Your strength is in people.  And I repeat, DEMOCRATIZE and fight for REAL BENEFITS.  Let these people lead their own fight and represent to the people in their shoes once you’ve started organizing them, and let them determine what agendas are most important for them.

(7) Look outward.  Democratize EVERYTHING–fight for greater self-determination and democracy in corporations, in their management, in their boardrooms, and between workers, communities, and shareholders.  Fight for a greater democracy in American political structures.  Be a force for democracy, and be SO PUBLIC ABOUT IT, so transparent, that no right-wing extremists can lie to the public about you.  Make everything you do about making the government and corporations more accountable to the people and no one will think of you as ‘just another big, selfish, scary organization’.  And unlike Obama, walk the walk AND talk the talk.

Do these things and I promise you the labor movement will turn around.  So will the country.  And we will all be better for it.


Good contemporary data: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

News Post: Health Insurers Versus America

My August 5th post on single-payer health care outlined why I thought single-payer health care ought to pass and become America’s new health system.  Its now appearing obvious that American legislators are in bed enough with insurance companies to make any important reform let alone the revolutionary change to single-payer health care difficult.  A Business Week cover article from August 6th, called “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” begins with an assertion in their first page that insurance companies will emerge more profitable regardless of any likely outcome.  It is the combination of Blue Dog and moderate democrats with republicans that is so quick to sell out American citizens for their corporate taskmasters. 

Representative Jim Matheson from Utah and Representative Mike Ross from Arizona, opposing progress and affordable health for millions on behalf of the Blue Dogs and corporations, are working to thwart any proposal which would set up a public option to compete with the private sector, a major component of the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce costs among the private sector.  The perspective of the leaders of the Blue Dogs can be easily seen.  Ross had been bought completely by UnitedHealth, stating that “”If United has something to offer on cutting costs, we should consider it.  We need more examples that work, and everything should be on the table.””  Ross wants everything on the table, and he’s worried about cutting costs in the health insurance industry.  What compassion!  Yet he also says that “We have concerns about a public option if it’s not done on a level playing field [with the insurance companies]”. 

Ross seems sincere, right?  I mean, he’s so concerned about everyone that he wants to help us all and help insurance companies, because they sure have been hurting in these hard, hard times. 

The National Coalition on Health Care states:

National Health Care Spending

  • In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012.1 Health care spending is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.
  • Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
  • In 2008, the United States will spend 17 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.
  • Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In other words, Americans spend more than anywhere else despitethe fact that 46 million are uninsured.  Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO reports that “profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage.”  You know, now that I think about it, maybe Ross and the blue dogs are more concerned with sacrificingAmericans for insurance companies than he is about being fair to everyone.  He actually bragged about how the Blue Dogs “held the [health care] bill hostage in committee for 10 days” and prevented consideration of a single-payer health care option, as reported by the Huffington Post. 

It appears that the major argument given by the opposition (Blue Dogs and republicans) to every sane and reasonable healthcare plan (those with public options) is that the creation of a public option, competing with private insurers, would underprice them and drive them out of business.  Then again, if they are so concerned with cutting costs and putting everything on the table, what difference does it make?  In other words, a public option can reduce prices for Americans in a way that private insurance either can’t or won’t.  Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance because they cannot afford it (I assume there can be no other reason).  Despite that, the Blue Dogs oppose any public option because of its increased ability to make healthcare. . . affordable?  Seriously, their primary objection is that public options will be able to lower their price to such affordable levels that, it is estimated (although controversially) that “88 million people, or 56% of those withemployer-provided coverage, would desert private insurance for a government-run program.”  If private insurers could not compete with a public option, isn’t that a sign that the public option is vastly superior to the private insurers?  I mean, I thought that sound logic went something like this:  “Millions of Americans can’t afford Option A.   Option B costs waaaayyyyless than Option A ever could, with the same coverage.  Because they could afford B waaayyyyy more than A, they’d probably switch from A to B because they like it more.  Consequentially, we should endorse B.”  The ‘argument’ given for supporting private insurers which, even according to the terms of the argument, are wholly unable to meet American needs, is that a public option, undercutting private ones in price, “would destabilize the marketplace and potentially kill the private insurance industry”. 

I suppose the correct response is “Who cares?”  Even those arguing for private insurers and againstpublic options do so from the premise that public options have greater potentiality to be affordable, so there is no reasonable objection to public options.  The healthinsurance industry is already in an oligopoly state in the market, and so arguments that a public option would destroy the competition are meaningless.  It’s not a competitive industry.  It’s massive profit margins and insufficient coverage are results of its lack of a need to be competitive.  Someone concerned withcompetition should welcome a public competitor, and realize that the true result of competition, that private insurers unable to compete might go out of business, is fine.  As for me, I’d rather have Americans have an affordable public option than a number of high priced private options.  We deserve to be able to afford the surgeries and medical care we need.  We deserve to not have to watch our sick children wither and die from our inability to pay for treatments.  We deserve to not have to choose between our children dying now because we can’t afford treatments, and our children dying later because the treatments put us permanently in debt.  We finally deserve democratic say over these issues, and if we have representatives we deserve those who will consider their citizens, rather than lie to their faces about the options before them, and stab them in the back with UnitedHealth’s knife. Stop protecting private insurers from competition!  Stop sacrificing American health for the profits of your capitalist friends! 

My post: https://practicalutopian.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/on-single-payer-health-care/

Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm 

NCHC: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

AFL-CIO: http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/05/27/health-insurance-profits-soar-as-industry-mergers-create-near-monopoly/

On Single-Payer Health Care

The House of Representatives is now going to vote on a single-payer health care proposal, thanks to the advocacy of Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York.  Is it going to pass in America?  Let’s focus on saying that it should pass.  Here’s why.

Time Magazine reported in its August 10th special issue on health care that it is projected that health care expenditures will exceed 20% of the GDP of the US by 2018.  Currently we spend about 17% or so of our GDP on Health Care, yet we rank behind 18 other industrialized nations in deaths that could have been medically prevented.  According to the group Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), “Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.”  The PNHP points out that Americans spend over twice what other industrialized countries spend on health care, yet over 45 million are uninsured and many more are inadequately covered.

The PNHP points out the primary reason why for-profit health insurance systems necessarily cost more than single-payer public options:

Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.

This is one of the main reasons why the arguments for the efficiency of capitalism and the “free market” in lowering costs are false in every industry:  as corporations become larger and their industries tend towards monopoly or oligopoly (one or a few dominant firms controlling the majority of a market), they have more power to set prices independent of “supply and demand,” choosing high profit margins over controlling cost for the consumer, and beyond that their costs become inflated with hidden charges for services, increasing levels of unproductive employees (such as advertisers and management), and even costs incurred through their lobbying efforts to thwart the public interest.  Health insurers make higher profits when they charge as much as they can get from desperate consumers, and pay out as little as possible.  Our nation is expected to spend 1/5 of our GDP on inadequate health care because, as a very privatized health care society, we allow these companies free reign, and accept arguments that serve to deflect attention from our real problems and their real solutions.

The PNHP site has a variety of links supporting and explaining single-payer health care, and I would direct anyone wanting a greater understanding of the option to that site.  Single-payer health care is more rational and efficient than our current system and would help our nation in a variety of ways.  It should pass.

The single-payer health care proposal would provide comprehensive health care to all individuals while leaving them choice among doctors, and give the public democratic control over health priorities and policies (subject to the limitations of the American system of government, of course) while leaving the individual seeking health care and their doctor absolute autonomy.  In fact, the PNHP states the following as two further key features of single-payer health care.

  • Ban on For-Profit Health Care Providers
    Profit seeking inevitably distorts care and diverts resources from patients to investors
  • Protection of the rights of health care and insurance workers
    A single-payer national health program would eliminate the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people who currently perform billing, advertising, eligibility determination, and other superfluous tasks. These workers must be guaranteed retraining and placement in meaningful jobs.

The PNHP points out that the profit motive is harmful in health care, and the same logic shows by extension that the profit motive is harmful to any consumer in any area, specifically those that directly affect human welfare.  Single-payer health care is the answer to our health problem in America, and it is our only answer.

As a radical, however, it would be irresponsible for me to stop my analysis or advocacy there.  Single-payer health care, as proposed, is the system of health care that would exist in a socialist society (save for certain steps like democratic worker control), but truly socialized industries cannot peacefully exist with an otherwise callous capitalist society.  Private industry will continue to have political influence, continue monopolization, and thus have ever increasing power over our society.  The whole capitalist class will have an interest in secretly undermining the single-payer health care system because health care is so absolutely profitable.  Years later, in societies like America where the working class sees the ruling class interests as its own, and becomes easily persuaded and easier pacified, aspects of privitization may start to creep in (such as the gradual privitization of the Swedish ‘welfare capitalism’ model, including its single-payer health care).  The move to single-payer health care does not replace the need for socialism; quite the contrary.  We need single-payer health care to pass, and from then on we have a reference point to show the superiority of a socialist-style industry.  This will only work if we remain diligent in refusing to allow any privitization to creep in.  Let us be active in our advocacy of single-payer health care, and loud in our voice, so that the Obama administration and congress cannot help but know the true will of the American people: We Want Single-Payer Health Care.

PNHP: http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_resources.php