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Single-payer health care will work


Not only will it give all Delawareans universal health coverage, but also, it will save us a bundle

By FLOYD E. McDOWELL SR.
The News Journal (Delaware)
July 19, 2009

Single-payer health care reform is a no-brainer for informed citizens and credible elected political decision-makers.

Our state's growing list of 32 statewide organizations and individuals supporting our single-payer Delaware Health Security Act will see a breakthrough in state single-payer legislation in 2010.

It's happening elsewhere.

California's State Legislature has twice passed a single-payer act, but both were vetoed by their Terminator governor. Former Gov. Jerry Brown, now attorney general, has announced his bid for governor in 2010, is leading in the polls and is a strong single-payer advocate. California has 43 times the population of Delaware, and if it were a nation it would have the eighth largest economy among all nations. Maine's state legislature has passed a single-payer act, and its coalition is working to elect a governor who won't let the Brinks truck visit and cause a veto.

Coalitions in Massachusetts, Vermont and many other states are making solid progress toward enactment of single-payer acts.

If one of these Eastern Corridor states passes single-payer reform, few private businesses will come to our state and we'll lose more than Chrysler and GM competing in the global economy.

Many polls, at state and national levels, show that about 70 percent of citizens polled want single-payer reform. Sensible single-payer or similar public-option reform will never occur in Washington, thanks to some 40,000 well-funded lobbyists protecting this largest cash cow in our nation's history. It's in the states where citizens can be informed and enlisted to support this desperately needed change.

The health-care page on our coalition's nonprofit, nonpartisan DEinformed voters.org site thoroughly explains the Delaware act.

The following is a partial list of the many research-proven, cost-effective benefits it will provide all Delaware citizens and our state:

* All citizens and their families will receive comprehensive, universal health care coverage from conception until death without a cent needed for extra insurance, co-payments or deductibles. This also applies to Delaware workers and their families if the worker lives in another state and works at least 20 hours a week in Delaware.

* Health-care coverage will include all services for physicians, dentists, other health-care professionals, hospitals, pharmaceutical drugs, all types of long-term care, laboratories, diagnostic technologies, our disabled citizens, mental health treatment, drug addiction treatment, and special equipment and aids.

* The act will eliminate all health-care debt, now responsible for about 70 percent of personal bankruptcies. This is a big reason citizens lose their homes or can't buy homes. Eighty percent of those filing for bankruptcy had health insurance.

* It will eliminate the Medicare/Medicaid pauper requirement that one must give up all savings and property to receive long-term care assistance.

* It will enable everyone's health-care records to be electronically sent anywhere in the world, whereas only 20 percent are now being transmitted that way.

* Personal health-care savings will enable hundreds of millions annually to be spent in our economy.

* The act will reduce vehicle and home/building insurance cost by eliminating the personal injury liability requirement.

* The act will operate like our successful single-payer Medicare program, which has an administrative/overhead cost of 1.5 percent, and will have adequate funds to properly pay all health-care providers.

* Although we spend twice as much on health care as the other 29 developed nations and are ranked 37th among all nations by the World Health Organization on important health-care indicators, we're the only developed nation that does not provide universal health-care coverage.

This act will eliminate the totally unnecessary broker health insurance industry (including AARP insurance), as they don't contribute even a Band-Aid to any part of health care, waste about 40 percent of our state's health-care funds via 30 percent administrative/overhead cost (tons of costly multi-payer paperwork, profits, advertising, lobbying, etc.) and a minimum of 10 percent in health-care fraud. This act will return all decision-making to physicians and other professionals, whereas now they have to get permission from health insurance industry staff for some life-or-death decisions. All citizens will choose their health-care physicians and other providers.

This act will save our state's budget over $200 million each year in lowered costs for state employee/retiree health-care coverage and on other state-funded health-care programs. State workers would not have a salary cut and not have to pay 2 percent of salary on health-care costs.

It will be like a magnet to both attract and retain private businesses in our state. It will save private and public employers 40 percent in workmen's compensation insurance rates. Private businesses will only pay about 10 percent into the state's fund. Large businesses will pay less than they're now paying, and small businesses will only contribute 3 percent, at one-half the rate of large businesses.

All state/federal funds for health care will go into the Delaware Health Security Fund. Ninety percent of our state's health-care funds come from hard-working citizens, 70 percent from taxes and 20 percent from out-of-pocket expenses. Each taxpayer filing a Delaware tax return will be required to pay a 2.5 percent Health Security tax on net (after deductions) income. This will be less than the current and future out-of-pocket expense. This act asks our elected officials to let our citizens' funds be used to cover themselves and family members just as their tax funds now provide and offer a comprehensive health-care benefit package to each of them and their family members. What irony!

Finally, this system is not government-run.

The ruling Delaware Health Security Authority will be composed of four members from the House and Senate Health Committees, the Secretary of Health and Social Services representing the governor's office, five representatives from statewide organizations representing health-care professionals and five from consumer groups that have endorsed single-payer reform.

Fifteen-member County Advisory Councils will be established in each county from the same sources to work with the state authority on all planning, implementation and evaluation of health-care facilities, staffing and services in each county.

Any lobbyist, politician or citizen who does the Halloween routine that this will bring the "guvment" between you and this sensible, cost-effective health-care system is either uninformed, a pathological liar or both.