Open letter to Senator Robert Menéndez: Single Payer!

My right honourable friend David Mintz shares with us this missive that he composed for Senator Robert Menéndez, gentleman from New Jersey, in regard to health care reform legislation. Though it’s substantiallly redundant with your humble servant’s letter published here just a few days earlier, we think the message herein bears repeating.
Dear Senator Menéndez:
I write in response to your invitation to your constituents to their submit ideas regarding health care reform. Note that this is not a canned text or a copy-and-paste job, but my own words.
The public option may sound like a good idea, but it’s clear that the likely outcome of HR 3200 is more of the same. Any solution built on top of the existing private-insurance-based scheme is a loser, as a public option plan will only be able to compete with the private sector by emulating the latter’s worst characteristics, shifting costs onto consumers and delaying or denying benefits. Indeed, from what I read of HR 3200, it contains a provision that the public option offer three or four distinct tiers of coverage with names like “Basic,” “Standard,” and “Premium” — meaning if you have enough money, you can buy relatively good coverage (emphasisi on relatively), whereas if you can’t afford the higher premiums, you can gamble with your health; and if you lose, go down the toilet both financially and medically. This sounds all too familiar.
It’s abundantly clear that the only rational and humane solution is a single payer system, and I therefore urge you to forget HR 3200 and support HR 676 and Senate 703. As a society, we are already spending enough to cover everyone, but 30 cents on every health care dollar is sucked up by insurance companies’ overhead and profits, while millions continue to go uninsured or underinsured. This is as immoral as it is wasteful. For-profit healthcare is an oxymoron, because health care is a human right, not a commodity.
When politicians say single payer sounds good but it isn’t politically feasible, I don’t buy it, for if every politician voted for single payer, you would have the votes. At worst, “not politically feasible” is a cynical expression whose true meaning is “I am up to my ears in private insurance and pharmaceutical money, and dare not betray my corporate masters.”
The economic disruption to the health care industry can be managed. Consider, as a reasonable compromise, phasing in single payer by lowering the eligibility age for Medicare by ten years every two until everyone is in from cradle to grave. (And, as a real “public option,” provide that others who are below the eligibilty age can opt to buy in at an earlier age via payroll deduction.) Further, HR 676 provides that displaced health insurance workers receive top priority for re-training and employment in the public, national health insurance program.
Of course, the right-wing fear-mongering about socialized medicine is to be expected, and should be ignored. HR 676 ought to be a true conservative’s dream, because it provides for an efficient, publicly financed, privately delivered health care system and eliminates vast amounts of waste. Even if we accept the language of the right and call it socialized medicine, I am telling you as a voter and citizen of these United States that I want socialized medicine.
How many of your constituents are satisfied with their private coverage, with its premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, exclusions, denials, delays, voicemail mazes, unintelligible form letters ironcially entitled Explanation of Benefits, and bureacrats incentivizing care providers to withhold care from them? I, for one, am among the fortunate: a healthy 51-year-old male with no chronic problems and relatively good insurance under BlueCross BlueShield Federal Employee Program “Standard Option.” Even so, I spend way too many hours doing battle with BCBS and providers over billing and reimbursements, and I have had quite enough.
I sincerely hope you will lend your support to genuine health care reform: Senate 703 and HR 676. As a bare minimum alternative, please support the Kucinich Amendment to 3200, which would make it easier for the states to implement single payer. If there is anything I can do to be of assistance in this regard, please feel free to call on me.

Open letter to Congressman William Pascrell: Support Single Payer/HR 676

Just now I emailed the following to my Congressperson, Bill Pascrell, who represents the 8th District of New Jersey.
Dear Congressman:
It’s time to eliminate the private health insurance industry and cover everyone with Universal Single-Payer National Health Insurance (NHI).
Under a comprehensive National “Single-Payer” Health Insurance Program, every American would be covered for all necessary medical care. All citizens would receive a National Insurance Card entitling them to care at any hospital, doctor’s office or clinic, as well as coverage for prescription drugs and supplies. The United States National Health Insurance Act, HR 676, embodies these principles and I urge you to support it.
Under NHI, a single, public insurance plan would replace the current patchwork of thousands of private plans. Eliminating the existing complex and redundant insurance bureaucracy and the paperwork burden it inflicts on doctors, nurses and hospitals would generate massive administrative savings. Overall, NHI would save about $350 billion annually on bureaucracy and profits, more than enough to pay for covering the uninsured and improving coverage for the tens of millions who are currently under-insured. (But if you aren’t convinced, I would urge you to ask the CBO to do an analysis of HR 676).
Most hospitals and clinics would remain privately owned and operated, receiving a budget from the NHI to cover all operating costs. The NHI would pay for care in private doctors’ offices, as well as in group practices and clinics.
A National Health Insurance Program is the only affordable option for universal, comprehensive coverage. Lesser reforms that retain the private insurance industry cannot streamline bureaucracy; as a result, expanding coverage inevitably means increasing costs, and reducing costs inevitably means limiting coverage. But NHI could both expand coverage and reduce costs. It would squeeze out bureaucratic waste and eliminate the perverse incentives that threaten the quality of care and the ethical foundations of medicine and nursing. For patients, NHI would assure comprehensive coverage and a free choice of doctors and hospitals. For physicians and nurses, NHI would minimize bureaucratic hassles and costs, and nurture the best traditions of these honored professions.
The so-called public option, so dreaded by the right wing and the insurance lobby, would most likely not be able to compete with the private sector except by emulating its worst characteristics: denying care and shifting costs onto consumers. We don’t need any more of that. And such a scheme has no realistic chance of “bending the cost curve.”
Medicare, on the other hand, already is a successful and efficient single-payer program that operates with 4% overhead (some sources say 3%) — unlike the private insurance industry, which consumes 30 cents on every dollar in overhead and profits while contributing nothing to the actual delivery of health care.
I am a 51-year-old healthy male with an exemplary lifestyle and relatively good insurance: Blue Cross Blue Shield federal program, “Standard Option.” Still, I spend far too many hours dealing with BCBS bureaucrats who feed me an endless stream of lies and obfuscation as they try to maximize profits by delaying or withholding benefits. And I am among the lucky ones fortunate enough to have coverage. I have had enough of this.
I do not buy the argument that Single Payer is not politically feasible. The majority of the public wants real health insurance and despises the status quo. “Not politically feasible” is at best a self-defeating, self-fulfilling prophecy �?? for if enough politicians voted for it, you’d have the votes — and at worst, a cynical subterfuge meaning “I am up to my ears in pharmaceutical and health insurance industry money.”
Single Payer is the only rational and humane solution to the crisis afflicting our country. Please do the right thing: support HR 676.
Thank you.
Postscript: some of the above text is borrowed from