Good Single-Payer Healthcare Piece from Sirota

I just received an email through the David Sirota network. It was a column from the Washington Examiner and it laid bare the lie that people don't support universal healthcare through a single-payer system (that is, government).

I know it isn't polite to cut and paste whole columns, but maybe this will help.

David Sirota is the author of the new book “Hostile Takeover,” a national best-seller (Crown 2006). He is the co-chair of the Progressive States Network.
The column beyond the break.

Addressing America's Health Care Taboo

By David Sirota

HELENA, MT - Here’s an idea rarely discussed in our nation’s capital: Health insurance should not be a for-profit industry.
...According to a national Harris poll in 2003, a strong majority of American "would prefer health care services to be provided by non-profits or government."

The public’s sentiment is understandable, given the facts. Take, for instance, a recent Reuters story on a major university study. "For-profit nursing homes and hospitals on average provide an inferior quality of care compared with their nonprofit peers," the news service reported, adding that "Nonprofit hospitals are also better at keeping costs down."

How about Businessweek’s June expose on the Veterans Administration? The magazine found that this nonprofit "nationwide health system that is run and financed by the federal government provides the best medical care in America." It does so at the same time "VA has held its costs per patient steady over the past 10 years despite double-digit inflation in health care prices."

Then there is Medicare. Harvard researchers have documented that America’s elderly, who are covered by the program, are 20 percent happier with their health care than other Americans who are in the private, for-profit system. And while roughly 15 cents of every dollar goes to "administrative" costs in the for-profit system, just 4 cents of every dollar goes to the same in Medicare.

So if Americans want the private profit motive removed from health care, and the data shows nonprofit health care delivers better, more cost-efficient care, then why do so few politicians in Washington talk about creating a government-sponsored, nonprofit universal health care system? Especially at a time when health care premiums are skyrocketing, more Americans are going uninsured, and voters consistently rank health care as a top concern, the question is critical.
..A 2003 ABC News poll found roughly two-thirds of Americans support a "universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that’s run by the government and financed by taxpayers." Similarly, a 2005 poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found a strong majority support "government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes." That included about half of core GOP voters.

No, as with everything in Washington, the real answer to the question is found by following the money...

Since 2000, the health industry has donated more than $370 million to the lawmakers of both political parties.
...
These campaign contributions and conflicts of interest guarantee that false debates substitute for a discussion of serious health care reform that might end health industry price gouging.

And make no mistake — a casual look at the headlines from research firm Weiss Ratings shows gouging is exactly what’s happening: "HMOs’ Profits Climb 81 Percent to $5.5 Billion in 2002"; "HMOs Earn $10.2 Billion in 2003, Nearly Doubling Profits"; "Nation’s HMO Profits Increase 10.7 Percent in 2004"; "HMO Profits Jump 21 Percent in First Quarter 2005." You can bet those profits aren’t being plowed into better care — they are being put into the pockets of executives like UnitedHealth’s CEO William Maguire, who over the last few years alone has amassed $1.5 billion in executive compensation.

Thankfully, a diverse coalition including health care professionals and courageous politicians are fighting back. That includes 14,000 doctors who are now members of Physicians for a National Health Care Program. ...
These and other leaders are breaking the silence and addressing the taboo subject of making health care off-limits to profiteers. And the louder their voices get, the closer this country will be to getting the not-for-profit health care system its citizens want and deserve.

The North Carolina Committee to Defend Healthcare is fighting for the Universal Access to Healthcare in North Carolina. The Physicians for a National Health Care Program is a strong supporter of the CDHC. We at the CDHC are rapidly moving from a small group of committed volunteers to a powerful voice for healthcare in NC. If you would like to get in on the groundfloor of this fight in NC, then I urge you to contact our new Executive Director, Charlie Kafoure (charlie@kafoure.com) to ask about volunteer opportunities, educational opportunities, our speakers bureau, and our seed chapters in the Triad and Charlotte.

Comments

Evidence

I don't even have to look for evidence anymore that corporate money has completely bastardized our democracy. If corporate money were illegal in campaigns PERIOD we'd have national single-payer healthcare already.

Sirota's knowledge

and his ability to articulate progressive common sense points is really impressive. Thanks for calling attention to this important issue and resource. I've seen Sirota going toe to toe with GOPer puppets on Sunday AM talk shows (the GOPers are usually whimpering by the end) and I've really enjoyed Hostile Takeover. It's an excellent reference book to purchase and keep on hand.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Profit v. Non Profit

As a long time non-profit professional, I can attest that there is a degree of accountability in the nonprofit sector that doesn't exist in for profit.

As a nonprofit, any grants or subsidies you receive come with a high standard of accountability via documentation that you are achieving the goals supported by the funder. Commonly, your application for funds will contain language such as: Organization will serve X clients through Y programs to achieve Z outcomes and earn _% satisfactory ratings. If the organization fails to meet those stated goals, the funding goes away.

On the other hand, for-profit can rely on profitability as the standard. As long as the business is achieving a profit, all is well. There are many ways to achieve profit without enhancing client satisfaction (reducing overhead, short-cutting services, freeze wages) and if there is little competition for your business, you will retain your customers.

Bush Economy