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News :: Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
01 Sep 2005
BOSTON – New census data released Tuesday is galvanizing support for a public forum on Sept. 1 where several Members of Congress will hear from a diverse group of seniors, workers, caregivers, immigrants, women, people of color, the uninsured, and local elected officials in support of a "Medicare for All" solution to the health care crisis.

The growing severity of the health care crisis has brought together over 40 grassroots organizations in Massachusetts for an impressive -- and unusual -- showing of political unity.

* For coverage of the hearing itself see:
"I propose we expand Medicare over the next decade to cover every citizen - from birth to the end of life,” said Senator Edward Kennedy in a statement earlier this year at the national press club. “Its administrative costs are low. Patients' satisfaction is high. Unlike with many private insurers, they can still choose their doctor and their hospital. I call this approach Medicare for All, because it will free all Americans from the fear of crippling medical expenses and enable them to seek the best possible care when illness strikes. It is long past time to extend that success to all."

Reps Tierney, McGovern, Frank and Olver are sponsoring legislation in the House – HR 676 – that would implement the Medicare for All approach. Alarmed by the new census data, more members of the Massachusetts delegation are expected to endorse this approach soon.

“I’m pleased to be a cosponsor of HR 676 that would expand Medicare coverage to every American,” said Rep. James McGovern. “It’s a shame that President Bush and the Republican controlled Congress won’t consider the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act instead of bringing forward meaningless bills that only protect their corporate friends.”

The Sept. 1 hearing at Faneuil Hall from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM will feature three panel presentations focusing on cost, access, and quality – the key elements that must all be addressed by any worthy reform proposal.

The new U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in Massachusetts—at 13.2 percent—the share of uninsured among people under 65 in 2004 was the highest it has been in seven years. The Massachusetts rate peaked in 1997 at 14.3 percent, declined annually through 2001 when it was estimated at 9.3 percent, and then rose in each of the next three years.

“Just focusing on the number of uninsured actually understates the problem,” said Barbara Ackermann, the former Mayor of Cambridge who now serves on that city’s Joint Board of Hospitals and Public Health. "Underinsurance is also a major problem. Many seniors on Medicare are underinsured and cannot afford essential care as needed."

"Insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to hold the health of our country hostage,” said Gerald Heng, president of the Association of Asian-Americans Foundation. “A plan that covers everyone is the best way to bring costs under control and improve the quality of care.”

“A plan like Medicare for All brings ‘Everybody In’ and leaves ‘Nobody Out’,” said Catherine DeLorey, a member of Massachusetts Public Health Association’s board of directors. "It creates powerful incentives to strengthen public health programs that will eventually make everyone healthier and save society billions of dollars.”

"The system they've set up for the new Medicare Rx plan brings in unnecessary middlemen,” said Ann Stewart, a member of Mass Senior Action Council and participant in the Prescription Advantage program. “The bureaucracy makes it so complicated that its bound to confuse and frustrate people. A simple system for everyone like Medicare for All makes the most sense."

“Over fifteen years of privatization, deregulation, job reengineering, managed care, hospital closures and cuts in essential services has resulted in an industrial model of health care that I call mangled care,” said long-time reform advocate Sandy Eaton who works as an RN at Quincy Medical Center. “As a result, no matter what kind of insurance you may or may not have, you take your life in your hands when you get plugged into this dysfunctional system.”

Other caregivers are stressing the importance of their roles in the quality of care. "We can't have conversations about health care reform, including universal health care, without including community health workers in the conversation. We are the bridge to link communities to health care. We increase access for the most vulnerable people, including low-income, minorities and immigrants to the health care system. Access is more than handing people an insurance card. Access is assisting people to navigate the system, this is what community health workers do best." said Lisa Renee Siciliano, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Community Health Worker Network.

Nugent Palmer works as a Personal Care Attendant in Massachusetts and has many years of experience providing essential home-based care services to Massachusetts residents with disabilities. Currently, Personal Care Attendants in Massachusetts have no access to health care coverage, regardless of how many hours they work.

Nugent, along with thousands of other PCAs, is uniting with SEIU Local 2020 to form the first-ever PCA labor union in Massachusetts to improve services for consumers and working conditions for home care workers.

Heng, Ackermann, Delorey, Stewart, Eaton, Siciliano, and Palmer will all be testifying at the Faneuil Hall hearing along with many others. The forum will be moderated by Sarah-Ann Shaw, a former news reporter at WBZ TV 4, civil rights organizer and human services advocate.

“Skyrocketing costs, deteriorating quality of care, loss of insurance coverage and access to essential services is affecting everyone’s health care,” said Paul Cannon, President of Teamsters Local 122 and co-chair of Jobs with Justice’s Health Care Action Committee. “It’s time to step-up the pressure on policymakers for comprehensive reforms.”
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Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
01 Sep 2005
too bad there's fascists all over the federal government who would rather just see us all lose everything to "mangled care"-- but i'm glad to know SOMETHING is happening at the federal level. . . . .even though the neo-cons and pro-corporate folks will laff it out the door.

(please tell me something optimistic- but onyl if you really believe it)

what ever happened to the boston self health collective? obviously its not substitute. . . .. just wondering?
03 Sep 2005
I fail to see what Benito Mussolini has to do with medicare.
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
03 Sep 2005
why don't they address medicaid programs (which is available for people who can't afford private health insurance). "universal health care" exists already, doesn't it? i'm confused by this because the people with the money can afford private health care, and the people without it can qualify for medicaid (in massachusetts, the program is administered under the name "masshealth"). can someone explain?
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
04 Sep 2005
Hi there-
did i say mussolini? ah yes- the only fascist ever to walk the earth! distant cousin to Ceasar- the only emperor ever to conquer another nation!- and check out that charles' lindenburgh- the only one ever to fly a plane! Who knew?? next you'll be telling me hitler was the only truely evil man ever to walk the earth- everyone else who kills masses of people is just fun and games! but i digress. . . . . .

to try and explain the difference between what we have and "universal"care-

medicaid is really ONLY for people who "can't afford" health care. its very strictly managed, difficult to get, hard to keep, and it gets cut down all the time, while the money that funded it gets sent to- you guessed it!- the War on Terrorism! you hafta be making under %200 of the poverty level, or be disabled, or have children AND be in "poverty", or be proveabley unemployed for 12 months. . .If you own a house, they note it, so they can come take it away from you to pay your bill if you do something irresponsible like, say, come down with cancer. the latest stunt was cutting dental care, glasses, and leg braces out of the plan- whilst kicking thousands of people off it altogether.

for those who make it out of the $13,000 a year bracket- we definitely have "universal health care"- if you are willing and able to pay out $400 a month to buy your very own, $5000 deductable plan, complete with co-pays- not to mention insurance officials who will deny you coverage of things the decide aren't nessasary.

the health care system is tipped right now basically to cover only those who DON'T need health care coverage---- folks who are able-bodied enough to work forty hours a week at a jobbie job thats rare enough to give them group coverage in the first place. thats because ALL insurance companies work that way- the less likely you are to need to make a claim, the less your coverage costs- cars, houses, or human bodies! It means anyone who NEEDS health care- they call that a "pre-existing condition"- has to pay a HUGE extra sum for their "care". Mee-self, i have a "pre-existing condition". That means MY individual care would cost my SIX HUNDRED dollars a month, even though i'm only 30. Sure I could buy it- if I worked a whole other, second FULL TIME JOB.

And, Of course, this has the effect of locking millions of parents- worried about getting care for their children- into full time jobs they absolutely hate. it means they can never do much of anything they *want* to do, because they're scared to quit and pursue anything like going into business or pursuing a cherished career goal or opening a resteraunt or B and B or bookstore, or even ask for vacation time, or -- GASP-- unionize. . . . . cause they might lose their family's insurance- or have to pay the one or two thousand dollars a MONTH an individual family plan would cost.

My friend has one of those jobs. She works way too much, and "only" has to pay $200 a month for her really crappy insurance plan. My mom had it to- that meant it only cost $300 to go to the emergency room instead of $500! Wow- what a bargain! then my family's insurance got USED UP after my brother was born with autism and my dad got ulcers a couple times. We used up our LIFETIME LIMIT- and they weren't even the MOST EXPENSIVE illnesses!

Michael Moore did a segment on one of his television shows about a man who needed a kidney transplant and was denied-- only with TONS of really AWFUL publicity(as only michael moore can dish it) did they change their minds. So even IF you have that health care- that you pay hundreds of dollars a month for- its NO gauruntee!

So THATS where universal care comes in. thats what most industrialised countries have. that means TAXES pay for all this(you know, the taxes bush just cut for the wealthy?). so that if you get sick, you don't have to worry about LOSING everything you ever EARNED or SAVED. now, these systems are flawed, too. dont' get me wrong. but they are a LOT less flawed than what we've got here! It means that you have health coverage no matter WHAT you do for a living, and no matter HOW sick you are. It means that you dont' have to worry about BANKRUPTING yourself every time you get sick. It takes medicine OUT of the hands of corporations that use it as a profit mechanism- somewhat, in an ideal world entirely, to my mind- and re-establish it as a public service- that is, regulated and covered by the government as a social service. Rich people dont' like that because they can just buy coverage that doesn't suck(most of the time)- so they don't want to be taxed to cover all the REST of the people.COnservatives dont' like it because it reminds them of communism(which it doesn't have to, since most of the cuntries that have it are capitalist). health insurance companies don't like it because they stop getting to make money on people's nessasary misery. And Mostly people complain about waiting lists and lines in these systems in Canada and England and most of the rest of Europe-

but me, i'd rather WAIT than NOT be able to afford it AT ALL. Especially after watching a crappy insurance plan WAIT my friend to DEATH when he needed a LIVER TRANSPLANT. . . . . . .right here in the united states! But hey, thats just me. . . . . anyway, i hope that helps.

("mussolini". . . jeezus h christ on a triscut cracker. . . ..what DO they teach then in these schools these days. . . . )
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
05 Sep 2005
insurance companies do suck. i think the question just comes down to the most basic of american dilemmas: how much of a role should government play in providing for people, and how much should be left to each person. i wasn't aware of the specific guidelines for medicaid, katt, but thank you. pretty scary numbers.

having said all that - do the numbers crunch for creating universal health care? it's one thing for us to say "let's do it," it's another to have the $$$ to do so. i remember clinton really wanted to do it early in his presidency, but couldn't balance the numbers. i know canada has it, but i believe their average income tax is over 50%. imagine that - over 50%! what is the suggested model to create univeral health care in an affordable manner? katt - you seem to know your stuff. how can we move this from the theoretical to the practical?
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
05 Sep 2005
my friends in toronto definitely say otherwise- that their taxes are %35 (they are the equivalent of middle class). and the tax arguement doesn't hold much water(to my opinion, respectfully) because right now, realistically, the price of health insurance for many, many folks is at LEAST %50 of their income- not for ALL the servies taxes would provide, but ONLY for inadequate health corporate insurance!

clinton's plan- i dont' entirely undertsnad it, mind you- but my impression was that he was going tocreate a partially private program administered by the government-- much like alot of social service agencies have become in teh wake of privitization, and basically "employ" large health insurance companies to administer a government regulated single-payer care system. Most of the trouble came because all the smaller insurance companies, who weren't included, didn't much like that idea and ran that whole "i won't be able to chose my doctor!" campaign. but i'm not sure. . . .you may know more of the details.

However, i DO know that silly corporate subsidies- things like $70 toilet seats at the pentagon, or several million dollar grants to mcdonalds to develop new happy meals, and off-shore tax shelters, and "economic incentives", and so forth- that these things definitely add up. Whats more, some emergency room doctors told me one day taht more than half the cost treatment incurred was because of al teh paperwork for teh imsurance company- most of which was aimed at making sure it was "medically nessasary"(read: do we really HAVE to cover this?), justifying that care, and at amassing a record on the person(read:so they can raise the premiums for taht "preexisting"condition). Those doctors told me that paperwork added anywhere from $85 to $150 PER PATIENT to EVERY transaction. This was co-aberated(how do ya spell that) by an article i read in the globe about a gynecologist in brookline who had stopped accepting ALl insurance and thereby reduced his prices to a rate even I coudl afford once a year or so.

massachusetts HAD amuch better medicaid program when i got here(before romney)- sicne there was a budget surplus, i don't think it was bankrupting the state. it used to be that you could get Free Care- including prescription meds, dental, psychiatric care, EVERYthing- for free up to $17,000 a year, and for a graduated aount per month up to $40,000 a year- after which those steep insurance costs still stink, but aren't going to put you out of food and shelter. One year i was in better times, and made enough to have to pay a premium- it was $50 a month-- very reasonable.

Of course the War may make all this mute, as the deficiet climbs and climbs and climbs-- thats *really* whhere the state's medical funding went, as federal funding to states was cut-- and really, much of THAT is ALSO a giGANtic corporate subsidy, as you most likely know. . . . .
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
07 Sep 2005
Actually, the last American president who seriously proposed Unviersal Health Care was Richard Nixon. Clinton's proposals look tame in comparison.

How times have changed.
Re: Community members support Medicare for all as numbers of uninsured rise
08 Sep 2005
yeah, thats true- ironic. . . . . . . . . nixon looks like a god damned dyed-in-the-wool socialist compared to his modern day counterparts- but then who's comparing? corupt scummy classist politicians are corupt scummy classist politicians, no matter how you slice it, ultimately. . . . society at that time was perhaps more demanding of things it ought to have. . . .