UNCARED FOR ON VETERANS’ DAY
Nice holiday speeches but Washington politicians are at heart unconcerned about America's health.
"I feel a little bit like we're debating whether to give aspirin or Tylenol to a patient with breast cancer," Dr Steffie Woolhandler said about health care proposals moving pushed through Congress. "The patient needs surgery," she told interviewer Amy Goodman. "What's being debated in Washington is really Tylenol or aspirin...
"There are so many bad planks. This bill needs to be scratched and we need to start over."
The Democracy Now interview was pegged to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers that found an estimated "2,266 U.S. military veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they lacked health insurance and thus had reduced access to care." "More than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008." "More than twice as many as have died(911 as of October 31) since the war began in 2001."
VETERANS uncared for
The risk of dying elevates by about 40 percent among people who have no health insurance. Nationally a little less than 1.5 million veterans are uninsured. This means almost 2,300 veterans die every year due to lack of health insurance...
Many of these veterans would not be helped under the bills before the House and Senate... If they get subsidies at all, the subsidies will be too small to make health insurance affordable. These veterans are mostly working families, who don't have the money to buy private insurance but they have too much money to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA benefits.
… The Veterans Administration (VA) covers members of the armed services who have service-connected injuries (e.g., loss of limb) "[But] Many middle-income vets are not eligible for VA care - and that's who these uninsured veterans are..."
Veterans in middle-income ranges, out of the service for two, three or five years, working but not getting insurance through their work, these veterans could not qualify for VA care.
Moreover, there are a limited number of VA facilities. Though many cities have VA facilities, not all cities have them and many people just cannot get to a VA facility even if they were eligible.
"… The VA is a good system and actually a good safety net - if you can get access to it. Currently, however, there is just not the funding within the VA system to allow coverage of all veterans."
Many veterans "will continue to be uninsured under the House or Senate bills. Even if the bills work as planned - they will leave somewhere between a third and a half of all uninsured people still uninsured in the year 2020."
CARELESS SHIFT of WEALTH
Far from making health care affordable, private insurers, subsidized by taxpayers under legislation moving through Congress are getting millions of mandatory new customers.
"FIVE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS in subsidies to the private health insurance industry will have the effect of making the health insurance industry more powerful, making the health insurance lobby more powerful. Just as they've hijacked this process in Washington, it makes them more able to hijack political processes in the future."
From studies of bankruptcy - 62 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States are due, at least in part, to medical illness or medical bills; patients start their illness with private health insurance but are bankrupted anyway by coverage gaps: co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services - "we know that private health insurance is a defective product."
The House and Senate bills "do nothing to fix private health insurance; they merely make private health insurance mandatory for middle-income working people and force these people to take lots of money out of their pockets to buy this defective product."
Criminalization of health choice - the private health insurance industry's "number one demand was the so-called individual mandate that would make it illegal not to have health insurance. It will become a federal crime to be uninsured.
"If you have private health insurance through your work, and you hate your private health insurance, tough luck; you have to keep that insurance. The mandate means you have to keep it. You can't buy the public option. You probably won't be able to go through the exchange. So they've made private health insurance mandatory - giving them [private health insurers] hundreds of billions in new—mandatory new customers."
Physicians for a National Health Program wrote an "open letter asking President Obama "to Support Single-Payer Health Care." This is an excerpt.
"Democrats propose diverting additional billions to private insurers by requiring middle class Americans to purchase defective policies from these firms - policies with so many gaps and loopholes that they currently leave millions of our insured patients vulnerable to financial ruin.
"Moreover, a 'public plan option' would do little to mitigate the damage of a reform that perpetuates private insurers' dominant role. Even a robust public option would forego 90 percent of the bureaucratic savings achievable under single payer; and a kinder, gentler public option would quickly fail in a health care marketplace where competition involves a race to the bottom, not the top - where insurers compete by NOT paying for care.
"…This kind of public option would amount to a government-run clone of private insurance, reproducing the worst features of private plans."
Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH (co-editor, PNHP Newsletter) is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard and co-director of the Harvard Medical School General Internal Medicine Fellowship program. Dr. Woolhandler has worked as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress (1990-91) and has written extensively on health policy. She is co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and a current member of the group's Board.
Dr. Woolhandler says, "The plight of the veterans epitomizes what happens to working families generally. Working families get caught in the middle-
They can't get Medicaid.
They can't get means-tested VA.
They can't afford private insurance, and
House and Senate bills don't really fix that problem.
Physicians for a National Health Program is "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program."
Since 1987 Physicians for a National Health Program has advocated reform in the U.S. health care system. Comprised of 17,000 members and chapters across the United States, Physicians for a National Health Program is a single-issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program.
The group's members perform groundbreaking research on the health crisis and the need for fundamental reform, coordinate speakers and forums, participate in town hall meetings and debates, contribute scholarly articles to peer-reviewed medical journals, and appear regularly on media programs advocating for a single-payer system. They work to educate physicians and other health professionals about the benefits of a single-payer system—"including fewer administrative costs and affording health insurance for the 46 million Americans who have none." Members and physician activists work toward a single-payer national health program in their communities.
Source: thepeoplesvoice.org Read in full