Sunday, May 31, 2009

Local residents propose single-payer system examines the calls for a single-payer health system. As the article relates:

Jersey City resident Bill Armbruster was laid off in February from his job as editor of a newsletter called the Shipping Digest, but he got to keep his health plan until August of 2010.

But he worries what will happen when his coverage expires.“If I try to buy insurance on the private market, I would probably have to pay at least $1,000 a month – if I could get it, and I doubt that I could,” Armbruster said. “That’s because I have neuropathy, a nerve disease, and the insurers don’t like to sell insurance to people with a pre-existing condition.”

He added, “At that point, I’ll be 61 – four years before I would be eligible for Medicare in August. I could be forced into bankruptcy if I get seriously ill or have a serious accident.”

This nightmare scenario could be allayed, according to Armbruster, if the United States had a single-payer health care system. Under the single-payer system, the government would pay for health care, much as it does with Medicare. That system would be implemented if Congress was ever to pass The United States National Health Care Act (HR 676), a bill that would expand and improve Medicare to 100 percent of all necessary medical care, including dental and psychiatric care and long-term care for everyone in the United States, with no deductibles and no co-pays.

It would be funded by a payroll tax of 4.5 per cent from employers and 3.3 per cent from employees, plus one third of one percent of all stock transactions.

The care still would be delivered by private doctors and health professionals. This system would also eliminate the need for many, if not all, private health care insurance companies.

HR 676 currently has the endorsement of over 75 members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, who represents Jersey City and Bayonne. But it does not have the backing of the most important politician of them all – President Barack Obama.

Armbruster is among local residents who have been pushing for support for the bill.

Single payer has its advocatesPhysicians for a National Health Program, a Chicago-based non-profit organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students, and health professionals, has advocated for single-payer national health insurance based on several findings:

- The U.S. is tops amongst industrialized countries in the amount spent on health care, $8,135 per person, yet 47 million people nationwide are without health coverage.
- Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consumes 31 per cent of every health care dollar.
- Payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, they say.

A recent study commissioned by the California Nurses Association found that improvements to Medicare to make it a single-payer plan would create 2.6 million new jobs, infuse $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and inject another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy.

But advocates aren’t just engaged in academic research to support their cause. Scheduled for this weekend is a National Day of Action on Saturday in various cities such as New York, organized by a coalition of non-profits, to call for the single-payer system. And on Sunday, a conference on single-payer health care will be held in Princeton.

This activity will be the latest of several to spotlight the issue. A more extreme event took place earlier this month during a protest at a Congressional hearing on health care reform that led to the arrest of 13 health professionals, who took issue with single-payer advocates being shut out of the hearing. Read more about this issue.

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