July 25, 2009
Updates and Health Care for All NOW!
A couple of great updates for this week: two amendments presented before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee were voted on this week:
1. An amendment that would reinstate the ban on federal funding for the syringe exchange, cost-effective and lifesaving program that does not promote drug use and provides a gateway for primary health care for hard-to-reach populations. VOTE: NO! The ban was kept lifted!
2. An amendment to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood programs. Planned Parenthood provides birth control and other contraceptives for millions of teenage and older women at reduced or free rates along with abortion, gynecological, and nursing services. VOTE: NO! The government will keep funding this necessary program!
HUZZAH! Thankfully, these amendments were not passed and federal funding is going to great causes.
In this post, I am going to attempt to explain the difference between the two types of health care reform being discussed right now: PUBLIC OPTION and SINGLE PAYER
The Public Option:
This is what President Obama has been recommending to Congress for the past months. This is the plan that is being created and voted on within the Senate committees and then expected to end up on the President's desk by October. This is the plan that is going to help achieve universal health care. So what is this health care crisis saving plan?
The Public Option has been created to work within the current health care system. It will create a government sponsored insurance option that will compete with the other insurance plans. As it will offer low premium prices compared to the other insurance companies, it will help to hold costs down. As this will be offered throughout the country, it will help those cities in which only one private insurance company is available to its employers and citizens. In this way, people who cannot afford health insurance will be able to purchase it at a very low cost or receive waivers. The government would be reimbursing the doctors and the hospitals to provide health care. The Public Option as written by the HELP committee will guarantee quality and affordable health care to whoever wants it. People who like their employer based or private insurance are welcome to keep it but others can opt into the Public Option.
Criticisms: The Public Option would place a government individual between the doctor and the patient (you might have heard this said by many Republicans and Fox News) and thus promote socialized medicine. The Public Option is therefore "unAmerican". It would also drive costs too low and thus cause other insurance companies to go out of business creating a government monopoly. The cost of this health care plan will be too expensive - estimates have been that of 1.5 trillion. However, there is a lot of preventative care to be taken into account that cannot be quantified. Estimates have shown that the cost of the plan will be $600 billion over 10 years.
My specific criticism: The Public Option does not guarantee universal health care. In fact, at most, at the moment, it will only provide to at most 20 million of the 47 million uninsured. This is because while the premiums will be low, there will still be premiums. And waivers cannot be handed to everyone who does not have enough money or any money at all according to the current Public Option. Also, the quality of health care will not necessarily be improved - clauses have been put in but no talk about funding being allocated towards quality of care has been talked about nor has the exact guidelines for quality been discussed.
Single-payer would put everyone in a public health insurance plan. A single government fund would be set up to cover all costs of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. This would be radically different from private insurance in that there would not be any risk assessment of a pool to determine the rates of health care, but instead just a single pool of money to pay all those involved in health care. Coverage would be the same for everyone and there would be universal health care as everyone would be subscribed to the public health plan. In order to fund single payer, everyone would have to pay taxes which would be dependent on income. The US is the only high-income industrialized nation that does not have a form of single payer.
Criticisms: Single-payer would get rid of the capitalistic nature of our health care system. The government would have too much control of health care and thus, quality will be affected. Freedom of choice in health care would not be available and as a result, queuing would occur just as in Canada and UK where people have to wait months to get an elective procedure or experimental medicines. In addition, the government would play an active role in deciding what procedures are appropriate and what medication should be available to fit under the constraints of the the single pool of money.
My criticisms: Quality might be sacrificed for the idea of universal health care. Valuable procedures and medications that should go to the public will be rationed instead.
I personally would prefer single payer based on the fact that in other countries, it works. While queuing is an issue, people who don't have health care have to wait forever for procedures. In true utilitarian fashion, I support single payer but at the moment, the Public Option is on the table and health care is in a crisis. Around 14,000 people are losing health care per day and more and more people are unable to get the medical attention they need. Right now, the Public Option is a necessity to give health care to as many people as possible and the opportunity to create real health reform. It's details are being hashed out so much debate and input from organizations like AMSA, AMA, and more will be considered.
If I have your email address, I will be sending you emails to call/email your legislator (with scripts!) to push for certain amendments to improve access and quality of our health care system. Senators do not know the struggle of people who don't have health insurance or poor insurance as they have excellent government-sponsored health insurance. This should be the standard for everyone. We need them to know what's it like to not get the test we need when we're sick, what it's like to not go to the doctor regularly because we just can't afford it, and what it's like to watch a doctor or health care professional make a mistake because of the system. We need to let them know what we want. We are the reason they're in office and if denied our right (yes our right) to health care, then they shouldn't represent us.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL NOW!
Posted by Reshma Ramachandran at July 25, 2009 03:37 PM