Single-payer system better

By Kay Tillow
Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court, in declaring the Affordable Care Act (ACA) constitutional, has endorsed a flawed attempt to solve the nation’s health care problem. Moreover, the court’s decision will only prolong many of our current health care issues.

This is the opinion of Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare (KSPH). The decision has saved the individual mandate which requires many uncovered persons to buy a private health insurance policy. KSPH is not about to weigh in with an opinion one way or the other on the constitutionality of mandated purchases. However, we do believe that the ACA is still deeply flawed -- no matter that it has some good features -- because it includes the private, for-profit health insurance industry at the center of its system.

Not only does this industry not provide an answer to many of the medical problems, it is a major problem itself. The insurance industry is responsible for extracting up to 31 cents of the American health dollar without providing any direct medical benefits.

A single-payer system would basically be an expanded and improved version of Medicare, but it would cover every age, every person. This system would negate the need for profit-driven insurance companies. And it would be a major jump-start in controlling soaring medical costs.

We think the Affordable Care Act will ironically become not affordable because the insurance industry is already finding ways to limit the coverage while charging more, and the bulk of the ACA doesn’t even kick in until 2014. Higher deductibles and higher premiums and skimpy under-coverage are on the horizon for most patients following the court’s decision. Skyrocketing medical costs will continue because the ACA doesn’t have effective controls.

In sum, the court threw a life buoy to a law that needed a rescue boat. The real remedy would be H.R. 676, the bill that would expand and improve Medicare, a type of system that every other developed nation has in place. This means that citizen activists must start right now to bring it to pass.

Kay Tillow is chair of  Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare. She resides in Louisville.