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Kucinich: Single-payer the only 'obviously constitutional' health care plan

By Sam Baker
The Hill, April 16, 2012

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is continuing to argue for a single-payer health care system, saying it would not raise the same constitutional questions that have dogged President Obama's health care law.

Kucinich on Monday highlighted a recent report that said a single-payer system would save the state of Minnesota nearly $190 billion over 10 years.

"Single-payer health care is inevitable in the U.S. and the states are the first to recognize it," Kucinich said in a statement.

The study, prepared by The Lewin Group, said a single-payer system in Minnesota would bring savings to the state as well as employees and their families.

Kucinich also noted that single-payer — because it would be funded through taxes, similar to Medicare — wouldn't raise the same kind of legal questions as Obama's health care overhaul. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on whether the law's individual mandate is constitutional.

"Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, health care costs continue to rise, jeopardizing budgets and preventing people from getting the health care they need," Kucinich said. "Single-payer is the only solution that is obviously constitutional and can meet our nation’s needs.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/other/221723-kucinich-single-payer-the-only-obviously-constitutional-healthcare-plan

PNHP note: The full text of Rep. Kucinich's news release follows:

Nearly $200 Billion in Savings if Minnesotans Demand Single-Payer Solution for Families, Businesses

Constitutional Approach Cuts Costs, Provides Universal Coverage

WASHINGTON (April 16, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), coauthor of H.R. 676, Medicare for All, today released the following statement highlighting a report by respected health care analytical group, The Lewin Group, showing the State of Minnesota would save $189.5 billion over ten years by providing universal, single-payer health care for all residents.

“Single-payer health care is inevitable in the U.S. and the states are the first to recognize it.  Single-payer would cover all residents, reduce costs, increase the quality of care, lower costs to businesses, lower costs to families, increase worker pay, and relieve the state governments of enormous financial burdens that come with our health care system,” said Kucinich.

“Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, health care costs continue to rise, jeopardizing budgets and preventing people from getting the health care they need. Single-payer is the only solution that is obviously constitutional and can meet our nation’s needs.”

The report from The Lewin Group showed that enacting a single-payer system in Minnesota would reduce health spending for the State by $4.1 billion (8.8%) in 2014. State and local governments would save an addition $35.7 million. Employers would save $1,214 per worker (“for employers offering health insurance coverage prior to the ACA”). Families would save an average $1,362 and the statewide savings would be $189.5 billion between 2014 and 2023.

“Insurance companies make money by NOT providing health care,” said Kucinich. “Americans are now mandated to pay massive subsidies to bail out the for-profit health insurance industry.

“One out of every three of our health care dollars goes to activities OTHER than providing care, like a massive lobbying effort to protect their profits.  Your total comes to 900 billion dollars every year.

“We have been mandating that the American people pay this much more for health care because Congress and the President have refused for decades to take on health insurance companies. This report is a wake up call for states, businesses and families struggling to deal with the rising costs of health care.

Congressman Kucinich introduced an amendment to the Affordable Care Act in 2009 in the Education and Labor Committee. The amendment, passed on a bipartisan vote but stripped from the bill, would have helped states pursue single-payer if that is what their residents wanted.

Fourteen studies by expert health care consulting firms have modeled the expected financial results if a state enacted a single-payer health care system to cover its residents.

State Annual Single-payer Savings Year
New Mexico1 $151,800,000 1994
Delaware2 $229,000,000 1995
Minnesota1 $718,000,000 1995
Massachusetts3 $1,800,000,000 - $3,600,000,000 1998
Maryland1 $345,000,000 2000
Vermont1 $118,000,000 2001
California1 $7,500,000,000 2002
Maine4 $0 2002
Rhode Island5 $270,000,000 2002
Missouri6 $1,700,000,000 2003
Georgia1 $716,000,000 2004
California1 $8,000,000,000 2005
Colorado1 $1,400,000,000 2007
Kansas1 $869,000,000 2007
Minnesota1 $19,000,000,000 2012

1.         Lewin Group
2.         Solutions for Progress
3.         Lewin Group, Solutions for Progress/Boston University School of Public Health
4.         Mathemetica Policy
5.         Solutions for Progress/Boston University School of Public Health
6.         Missouri Foundation for Health

Fourteen of the fifteen studies showed very significant savings in health care costs while at the same time insuring everyone. Maine was the exception, showing no increase/decrease in state health spending under single-payer but providing health care to an additional 150,000 residents. 

http://kucinich.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=L6KLEKV7RO3HSGKNESSI2RAXJA