director@masscare.org

Blog

Doctors group: House GOP health plan is a re-branded and far meaner version of the ACA

From Physicians for a National Health Program:
Action Alert!

With the renewed debate about the future of U.S. health care, PNHP urges you to speak out for single-payer health reform at town halls, public forums, and meetings, and via op-eds and letters to the editor of your local newspaper or specialty publication.

We also encourage you to tell your lawmakers that an improved Medicare for All is the replacement plan our patients need. As an example, PNHP’s co-founders have posted an open letter to the presidenturging him to reject the House GOP bill in favor of single payer.

The Campaign for Guaranteed Healthcare has developed an online tool that makes it easy to ask your congressperson to cosponsor H.R. 676. This legislation now has 63 cosponsors, and a companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate, we understand.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 9, 2017

Doctors group: House GOP health plan is a re-branded and far meaner version of the ACA

The ‘American Health Care Act’ plan perpetuates the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act, including the subsidization of the private health insurance industry, while cutting benefits to the poor and middle class, and giving hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the rich

Physicians for a National Health Program decries the recently released Republican Obamacare replacement bill, the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA). That plan would constitute a major backward step in health policy, compounding the problems of uninsurance and underinsurance while handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Proposed as a replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AHCA would maintain its basic structure. The bill would:
• Continue to channel billions of taxpayer dollars through wasteful private insurers;
• Sharply reduce the ACA’s subsidies (or “tax credits”) available to lower-income persons, particularly older adults, to purchase coverage;
• End the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies for copayments and deductibles, increasing the cost of care for those with chronic medical conditions;
• Replace the ACA’s “individual mandate” penalty on the uninsured with a 30 percent surcharge on insurance premiums for those who experienced a lapse in insurance coverage;
• Slash federal funding for the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020, and move towards a “per capita” cap on Medicaid spending that would squeeze state Medicaid budgets and push millions of enrollees out of the program;
• Increase the tax-favored status of Health Savings Accounts, which mostly benefit people in high income brackets;
• Reduce taxes on pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies;
• Offer tax reductions totaling $274.6 billion over 10 years to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

These and other provisions would take the nation in the wrong direction. Even with the ACA in place, 29 million remained uninsured in 2015; the ACHA would only push that number higher. And today, even many Americans with coverage face bankrupting medical bills for copayments, deductibles and uncovered services. By lowering the standards of private insurance plans and ending cost sharing subsidies, the ACHA would only intensify the problem of “underinsurance.”

The ACHA would replace the ACA with a worse, more regressive version of the original bill. This is not what Americans want or need. PNHP instead urges Congress to replace the ACA with a single-payer national health care program. Unlike the ACA or the ACHA, single-payer, Medicare for All reform could effectively control costs while creating a right to high-quality health care for everyone in America.

A more detailed, point-by-point summary of the contents of the GOP House bill, prepared by Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, is available here.

Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is a nonprofit research and education organization of more than 20,000 doctors who support a single-payer national health program. It was founded in 1986.
Connect with Us

Facebook Twitter Google+ Flickr LinkedIn YouTube Donate

Physicians for a National Health Program

29 E Madison St, Ste 1412
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 782-6006
www.pnhp.org | info@pnhp.org

Read more

Ideas and Opinions |21 February 2017 Single-Payer Reform: The Only Way to Fulfill the President’s Pledge of More Coverage, Better Benefits, and Lower Costs

Read more

Summary of Republican Congressional Health Reform Proposal

Summary of Republican Congressional Health Reform Proposal

Released 3/6/2017

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., & David Himmelstein, M.D.

Most ACA insurance regulations unchanged (probably can’t be changed through reconciliation)
    Cover preexisting conditions
    No health status underwriting
    Meet actuarial value requirements
    Cover adult children up to age 26
    Cap out-of-pocket expenditures
    No lifetime or annual limits
    10 essential benefits
Medicaid – Cuts in Federal payments estimated at $370 billion/10 years
    Ends ACA expansion and essential health benefit requirements 1/1/2020
    Replaces Federal Medicaid match with per-enrollee funding 1/1/20.
    Full funding for those continually enrolled since 1/1/2020; reduces funding for new enrollees or re- enrollees by one third.

Federal payments to the states through Medicaid or any other program for Planned Parenthood would be prohibited

Insurance Regulation and Continuous Coverage Requirement
    Replaces mandate with continuous coverage requirement for individual/small group plans: Premiums increased by 30 percent for those with a gap in creditable coverage of at least 63 continuous days during the preceding 12 months (or, for people leaving dependent coverage, who did not enroll during the first available open enrollment period).
    Allows premiums to vary by a 5:1 ratio for old:young (vs. 3:1 under the ACA)
Coverage subsidies (tax credits)

Replace ACA subsidies with age-adjusted, fixed-dollar advanceable tax credit. Phased out for individuals with income > $75,000 (families > $150,000)o $2,000 for individuals under 30

  • $2,500 for those ages 30 to 40;
  • $3,000 for those ages 40 to 50;
  • $3,500 for those ages 50 to 60; and
  • $4,000 for those over 60 (<1/3 of the average cost of coverage for this age group)
    • Tax credits would only be available for individuals not eligible for employer coverage
    • Most non-citizens ineligible for tax credits
    • Prohibit using subsidies for any plan that covers abortions
Taxes repealed & new cuts (amounts in parentheses are amounts lost to treasury over 10 years)
    Medicare tax on unearned income for wealthiest 2% of taxpayers ($157.6 billion).
    Medicare surtax on high incomes >$200,000 ($117 billion)
    Tax on prescription drug firms ($24.8 billion).
    Tax on medical device firms ($19.6 billion).
    Tax on health insurers ($144.7 billion).
    Tax on health insurer executive compensation exceeding $500k ($400 million)
    Others: Tanning tax ($600 million);.med. expense deductions ($34.9 billion); FSAs ($18.6 billion); HSAs ($24.1 billion);
    Delays Cadillac tax
Other Provisions
    Cuts $1 billion from Prevention and Public Health Fund (i.e. CDC and public health departments).
    $100 billion in new funds for states to establish high risk pools etc.
Read more

Thanks to Trump and GOP, a California single-payer healthcare system is now possible

Here’s an excellent article. It’s informative and hopeful.

http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-california-single-payer-healthcare-20170303-story.html

Thanks to Trump and the GOP, a California single-payer healthcare system is now possible

Republican proposals for Medicaid block grants unintentionally would remove a key obstacle to California creating its own single-payer insurance system. (Getty Images)

David Lazarus
Contact Reporter

Could California have its own single-payer health insurance system providing coverage for all residents? A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would do just that — and its chances of success could be vastly improved by President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.

Thanks, guys!

1 (4)

First, a little history lesson. Stick with me because this is important.

California flirted with a single-payer system when the Legislature signed off on the idea in 2006 and again in 2008. The bills were vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared in 2006 that “socialized medicine is not the solution to our state’s healthcare problems.”

Those legislative efforts were spearheaded by Sheila Kuehl, who was then a state senator and is now a Los Angeles County supervisor. She and I spoke frequently during California’s flirtation with single payer and we caught up on the topic this week.

Her biggest mistake in 2008, Kuehl told me, was not effectively countering the “socialized medicine” line from Republicans and conservative critics.

“What we should have done from the very beginning was use the phrase ‘Medicare for all,’ ” she said. “People are familiar with how Medicare works. They would have understood that we weren’t taking over healthcare providers.”

Under the typical single-payer system, payroll taxes replace premiums, deductibles and co-pays as a funding mechanism for health insurance. This is how almost all other developed countries succeed in providing affordable coverage for everyone — and for about half as much as what Americans pay.

No one is proposing a government takeover of hospitals and doctors’ offices.

“Single-payer isn’t socialized medicine,” Kuehl said. “It has nothing to do with hospitals and doctors. It’s purely a form of insurance. But we didn’t communicate that as well as we could have.”

Messaging aside, she thinks the public has become more open to new ideas.

“With so much uncertainty from the Trump administration,” Kuehl said, “I’m more convinced than ever that single-payer is the way to go for California. It’s a very, very good idea.”

The idea is back in play thanks to state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who last week introduced a bill aimed at creating a Medicare-for-all system for Californians.

It doesn’t yet say how this would be accomplished. Instead, it declares the Legislature’s “intent” to pass a law that would “establish a comprehensive universal single-payer healthcare coverage program and a healthcare cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state.”

Details, presumably, will come later.

“If Republicans abandon California and Congress moves to cut Medicaid, we will insist that the federal government treat us like any other state and give us the flexibility and freedom to address the health needs of our entire population through a universal healthcare system,” Lara told me.

Studies have shown that a single-payer system would result in lower out-of-pocket costs for most California residents.

But one big problem with Kuehl’s earlier bills was how the $100-billion Medi-Cal program — the state’s version of Medicaid — would integrate with a California single-payer system. Medi-Cal covers about a third of the state’s population. About $67 billion in funding comes from the federal government.

That state-federal partnership meant Washington would have needed to sign off on any move to incorporate Medi-Cal into a state single-payer plan, and Kuehl acknowledged at the time that this probably would have been hard to obtain.

Thanks to Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, things are now very different.

“We should give our great state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out,” Trump said in his speech to Congress this week.

What he and Republican leaders mean by that is giving states a fixed amount of Medicaid money in the form of block grants to cover low-income people. States currently are guaranteed at least $1 in federal funds for every $1 in state spending.

The Republicans’ goal is for the federal government to pay less for Medicaid annually. But what they’re also unintentionally doing is removing perhaps the biggest obstacle to California and other states establishing their own single-payer systems.

With block grants, states wouldn’t need congressional approval to use Medicaid money for a broader insurance program.

“Yes, that solves the problem,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

But he noted that block grants create a different issue in the form of program sustainability. Unless the annual grants grow with healthcare costs, states will find themselves increasingly underfunded in covering Medicaid populations.

“If the grants are linked to inflation, that won’t be sufficient,” Kominski said. “Healthcare spending always grows faster than the overall economy.”

The average cost of living for Americans rose about 2% last year. Healthcare spending, meanwhile, climbed 4.8%, and is expected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to rise 5.4% this year.

“Block grants are a poison pill,” Kominski said. “They’re a slow-acting poison that cuts off your healthcare funds.”

That’s not an insurmountable problem. California could structure a single-payer system so that it’s sustained by a greater share of state tax revenue, with program efficiencies offsetting a gradual decline in federal dollars.

A 2005 study by the Lewin Group found that a single-payer insurance plan would save California nearly $344 billion over 10 years, primarily by streamlining bureaucratic overhead and relying more on bulk purchases of prescription drugs and medical equipment.

The study also predicted a significant economic boost for businesses because they’d no longer be responsible for employees’ health coverage. This, in turn, would probably spur job creation.

A single-payer system would be a clear improvement for California and would serve as a model for the rest of the nation. Don’t forget: Canada didn’t adopt a single-payer system overnight. It rolled out its universal-coverage program gradually, province by province. The same methodical approach would be prudent for the United States.

But now another question arises: What sort of single-payer system do we want? They’re not all created equal.

On Tuesday, we’ll look at alternative approaches to covering everyone.

David Lazarus‘ column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

 

Read more

Call to Action! Call your Rep. and Senator TODAY!

From day one, President Trump has been working to repeal ObamaCare, the only way to ensure true healthcare justice is to expand Medicare to Everyone!

Please take 3 min to contact your State Rep. and State Senator to ask them to Co-Sponsor our NEW legislation. They only have a week to add their name as a Co-Sponsor, so please call them today!

The phone number for the State House is 617-722-2000

ASK THEM TO BECOME CO-SPONSORS OF OUR TWO BILLS:
1.“An act establishing improved Medicare for All in Massachusetts” SD698 (lead sponsor Senator Eldridge) HD 3249 (lead sponsor Rep. Garlick)  
2. “An act to ensure effective health care cost control” SD1281 (lead sponsor Senator Cyr); HD1501 (lead sponsor Rep.Benson.)

If you do not know your State Rep. and/or State Senator, you can look it up quickly by putting your address into this link:

https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

It is time that we Fight for Single Payer / Medicare for All here in the Commonwealth!
Read more

Our Healthcare Costs are the Highest in the Nation / World

52d10818-d813-4f9f-b209-8943d5e8f30f
Today, the HPC released select findings from the 2016 Cost Trends Report. Annually, the HPC releases a report on health care cost trends, which examines health care spending and delivery in Massachusetts, opportunities to improve quality and efficiency, and progress in key areas. In February, the HPC will release the final 2016 Cost Trends Report, which will offer policy recommendations building from the HPC’s research and data.
Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation highlighting the select findings.
It is time that we Fight for Single Payer / Medicare for All here in the Commonwealth!
Read more

Op-ed: Importance of Boston City Council Supporting Single Payer Health Care Reform

Op-ed: Importance of Boston City Council Supporting Single Payer Health Care Reform

By: Ture Richard Turnbull | August 22, 2016

The Boston City Council will take a bold step on Wednesday, August 24 by passing a resolution reaffirming its support for a single payer health care system.  The resolution calls upon the state legislature in the upcoming 2017- 2018 legislative session to propose and pass a measure to achieve a single payer system in the Commonwealth.

This resolution is an extremely important endorsement for true health care reform that would make health care a right for all Massachusetts citizens and “provide availability and affordability of healthcare for all Massachusetts citizens.”

In 2001 the Boston City Council passed a similar resolution supporting single payer (also known as Improved Medicare for All). In 2008 the Commonwealth adopted Chapter 58 in an attempt to cover more people by mandating that everyone must buy health insurance or pay a stiff fine; but it lacked the ability to control health care costs. We now have the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is largely based on Chapter 58. It does cover more people, but it is still unable to control costs. In Massachusetts there are about 300,000 people who are uninsured and many more who have insurance, but the co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and high cost of medications make it impossible to access the medical care they need.

We need to ask ourselves why our present health care system fails to provide everyone with affordable, high quality coverage. If we look at the money trail it is clear that the private health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical corporations, and the big hospital groups are stashing away billions of dollars while patients are struggling to pay for needed and routine medical care. We have a profit-based or market-based system that basically allows the health insurance companies to make huge profits by skimping on medical care creating a large profit margin that satisfies their shareholders. The pharmaceutical companies are on a rampage to raise prices on their prescription drugs to the point that in some cases life-saving medications for HIV, hepatitis C, and cystic fibrosis will cost as much as $300,000 per year. These corporations say they need the money for research and development, but most of the money goes to the CEOs with obscene salaries and to payouts to satisfy their shareholders. We need a health care system that is patient-centered not market-based.

Why should Massachusetts move to a single payer system?

  • It guarantees access to medical care for everyone, up front, with no co-pays, deductibles, or high out-of-pocket costs.
  • It is continuous from birth to death, no eligibility requirements if you reside in Massachusetts, with no loss of coverage if you change or lose a job, and no need to stay in a bad job just because of the health insurance it provides.
  • Businesses and municipalities would benefit because they would no longer be responsible for providing health insurance for their employees. Instead they would pay a payroll tax that would be predictable for long-term planning and in most cases would cost less than what they pay now, allowing for growth in businesses and more funding for vital municipal programs such as schools and fire and police for towns and cities.
  • A single payer system would be funded by income taxes made as progressive as possible under Massachusetts law, a business contribution through a payroll tax, and possibly taxes on unearned income. State income taxes might rise for some people, but the rise in taxes would be in most cases much less than what we pay now for health insurance premiums (around $22,000?!?! for a family of four), co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, all of which would be eliminated.
  • Private health insurance companies would be streamlined to cover only things not covered by the single payer system. This would eliminate the wasted money spent on unnecessary administrative functions and the profits that are siphoned off the system estimated to be around 30% of total health care expenses for the state. Pharmaceutical companies would be forced to negotiate their prices with the single payer administration. This would keep the cost of medications affordable and set better guidelines for development of new drugs.
  • Hospitals and large medical groups would be funded by a negotiated budget for all hospital expenses. Capital improvements would have to be approved by the single payer administration to avoid duplicated services that aren’t necessary for the system.
  • A single payer system is a patient-oriented system that would reduce health disparities since everyone is covered, and improve the quality of care. It would also strengthen the healing power of the doctor-patient relationship by giving doctors the right to make decisions about medical care instead of insurance bureaucrats allowed full choice of doctors. A single payer system is based on the premise that a healthy society promotes opportunities for the young, comfort and dignity for the elderly, and good healthcare for families that make up the workforce of the country.

The timing of the resolution by the Boston City Council is tremendously important. A single payer system is being championed by candidates across the country and it is now a mainstay of the large and growing progressive movement. In Massachusetts there are many new candidates who will be added to the strong group of legislators who already support a single payer system. The primaries will be held September 8th and it is extremely important for everyone to vote and to support the candidates who will vote for a single payer system. Cities and towns across the Commonwealth have the incentive now to follow the Boston City Council and make resolutions of their own to support a single payer system. The 2017-2018 legislative session will show whether we have the political will to achieve what almost all the other countries in the world already provide, a single payer (Improved Medicare for All) system that covers everyone with high quality care, is affordable, sustainable, and equitable.

Thank you Boston City Council!

For more info visit www.MassCare.org.

Posted in Jamaica Plain News: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2016/08/22/op-ed-importance-of-boston-city-council-supporting-single-payer-health-care-reform/20657

Ture Richard Turnbull is the executive director for Mass-Care. Mass-Care’s mission is to establish a single payer health care system in Massachusetts. 

 

Read more

Boston City Council Resolution Calling for a Single Payer System

Dear Single Payer Supporter:

The political revolution continues! On Wednesday, Aug. 24th at 12pm in the City Council chambers in City Hall, PLEASE JOIN US as the City Council will sign a resolution calling for the creation on a Medicare for All / Single Payer healthcare system for the Commonwealth!

resolution

This is a bold step and we thank the City Council for their leadership as we set the stage for the next legislative session for the Commonwealth. Please join us and make sure to VOTE for the state’s primary on THURSDAY, September 8th!

If you are unable to join us next Wednesday, please contact your City Councilor to ask them for their support of the resolution. Contact info HERE! 

In solidarity.

Ture Turnbull
Catherine DeLorey
Pat Berger
Jackie Wolf

Ture Richard Turnbull
Executive Director of Mass-Care
www.MassCare.org
617-602-7868

Read more

How to Contact Your Elected Officials

Federal

Call your US Congressmen:

202-224-3121

The federal bill for Medicare for all is H.R. 676

Look up who your US Congressmen and US Senator here:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

State

Call your State Representative:

617-722-2000

Call your State Senator:

617-722-1500

The state bills for Medicare for All:

Senate
S.579: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S579

House
H.1026: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/House/H1026

Look up who your State Rep. and Senator are here:

http://www.wheredoivotema.com

Talking Points:

1. 272,000 Massachusetts residents lacked health insurance in 2012, 4.1% of the population. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

2. About 300 adults die from lack of health insurance coverage annually in the state. (Annals of Internal Medicine  2014;160:585 & American Journal of Public Health 2009;99:2289).

3. At least 530,000 Massachusetts residents under age 65 are under-insured, meaning they have coverage, but still devote a large share of income to cover costs including copayments and deductibles. Many more lack adequate coverage for long-term care or mental health services. For 618,000 with private coverage, their premiums are so high that they’re unaffordable, according to federal guidelines. (Commonwealth Fund 2014)

4. Massachusetts’ per capita health costs are about 30% above the national average and continue to rise.  Between 2009 and 2011 private insurance premiums in Massachusetts increased 9.7% despite a 5.1% fall in benefit levels – effectively a 14.8% cost increase. (CMS Office of the Actuary & Mass. Center for Health Info. and Analysis)

5. Federal, state and local governments already pay about 64% of all health costs in Massachusetts, which totals about $8,500 per resident in 2014.  This figure includes health benefits for public employees and tax subsidies for private insurance, as well as government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. That’s more than total (public + private) health spending in any other nation. (Health Affairs, 2002;21(4):88 – updated by the authors)

Read more