Please read this great article.
There is Still Time For Real Reform, Listen to the American People
Open Letter to President Obama on Health Care Reform
By Margaret Flowers, M.D.
January 28, 2010
President Barack Obama|
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama,
I was overjoyed to hear you say in your State of the Union address last night:
“But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”
My colleagues, fellow health advocates and I have been trying to meet with you for over a year now because we have an approach which will meet all of your goals and more.
I am a pediatrician who, like many of my primary care colleagues, left practice because it is nearly impossible to deliver high quality health care in this environment. I have been volunteering for Physicians for a National Health Program ever since. For over a year now, I have been working with the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care/ National Single Payer Alliance. This alliance represents over 20 million people nationwide from doctors to nurses to labor, faith and community groups who advocate on behalf of the majority of Americans, including doctors, who favor a national Medicare-for-All health system.
I felt very optimistic when Congress took up health care reform last January because I remember when you spoke to the Illinois AFL-CIO in June, 2003 and said:
“I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.” (applause) “I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”
And that is why I was so surprised when the voices of those who support a national single-payer plan/Medicare for All were excluded in place of the voices of the very health insurance and pharmaceutical industries which profit off the current health care situation.
There was an opportunity this past year to create universal and financially sustainable health care reform rather than expensive health insurance reform. As you well know, the United States spends the most per capita on health care in the world yet leaves millions of people out and receives poor return on those health care dollars in terms of health outcomes and efficiency. This poor value for our health care dollar is due to the waste of having so many insurance companies. At least a third of our health care dollars go towards activities that have nothing to do with health care such as marketing, administration and high executive salaries and bonuses. This represents over $400 billion per year which could be used to pay for health care for all of those Americans who are suffering and dying from preventable causes.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You said that you wanted to “keep what works” and that would be Medicare. Medicare is an American legacy of which we can feel proud. It has guaranteed health security to all who have it. Medicare has lifted senior citizens out of poverty. Health disparities, which are rising in this nation, begin to disappear as soon as patients reach 65 years of age. And patients and doctors prefer Medicare to private insurance. Why, our Medicare has even been used as a model by other nations which have developed and implemented universal health systems.
Mr. President, we wanted to meet with you because we have the solution to health care reform. The United States has enough money already and we have the resources, including esteemed experts in public health, health policy and health financing. Our very own Dr. William Hsiao at Harvard has designed health systems in five other countries.
I am asking you to meet with me because the solution is simple. Remove all of the industries who profit off of the American health care catastrophe from the table. Replace them with those who are knowledgeable in designing health systems and who are without ties to the for-profit medical industries. And then allow them to design an improved Medicare-for-All national health system. We can implement it within a year of designing such a system.
What are the benefits of doing this?
* It will save tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of American lives each year, not to mention the prevention of unnecessary suffering.
* It will relieve families of medical debt, which is the number one cause of bankruptcy and foreclosure despite the fact that most of those who experienced bankruptcy had health insurance.
* It will relieve businesses of the growing burden of skyrocketing health insurance premiums so that they can invest in innovation, hiring, increased wages and other benefits and so they can compete in the global market.
* It will control health care costs in a rational way through global budgeting and negotiation for fair prices for pharmaceuticals and services.
* It will allow patients the freedom to choose wherever they want to go for health care and will allow patients and their caregivers to determine which care is best without denials by insurance administrators.
* It will restore the physician-patient relationship and bring satisfaction back to the practice of medicine so that more doctors will stay in or return to practice.
* It will allow our people in our nation to be healthy and productive and able to support themselves and their families.
* It will create a legacy for your administration that may someday elevate you to the same hero status as Tommy Douglas has in Canada.
Mr. President, there are more benefits, but I believe you get the point. I look forward to meeting with you and am so pleased that you are open to our ideas. The Medicare-for-All campaign is growing rapidly and is ready to support you as we move forward on health care reform that will provide America with one of the best health systems in the world. And that is something of which all Americans can be proud.
With great anticipation and deep respect,
Margaret Flowers, M.D.
Maryland chapter, Physicians for a National Health Program
We know that there are likely more, but these are ones Karyn Strickler and I have personally vetted. Please help them by any means necessary. This list is in no particular order.
PLEASE SHARE FAR AND WIDE. Help one, help all:
If there are any groups you should be added, please let us know. If there are groups you believe need to be more scrutinized, let us know that as well. Your wishes to add to this organic list to improve it is paramount as a source for change.
(and I will add more direct links later)
Karyn and Gregory
Thanks to Dr. Litchford for pointing out some inconsistencies in this report.
The outright capitulation of Democrats in Congress, as well as the so-called “progressive” community of activists both inside Washington DC and around the country, should come as no surprise; it is simply another manifestation of the status quo – policies, compromises, and failures meant to salute the corporate goings-on in that city.
This, of course, is a manifestation that started decades ago as corporate moneys began to – and continued to – influence characters selected by the “left” to run for local, regional, and national offices. The grossest recent display of a Democrat suckling from these corporate coffers came during the Clinton years of NAFTA; failed health reform; and deregulation of industry sector after industry sector - including the allowance of negligent conglomeration of banking entities and investment houses, the foundation upon which the economic downturn lies, and the downright suffering we normal folks are struggling with, and dying for, on a daily basis.
Observations of Al Gores, Joseph Leibermans, Dianne Feinsteins, Nancy Pelosis, Barack Obamas ,and Max Baucuses since further prove the point: just because a candidate has a big fat (D) following his or her name doesn’t meant his or her scruples are any more inline with the American public then those hairy, scary R’s on the other side of the aisle.
It has been stated time and time again, and we may collectively repeat the sentiment today – with more poignant evidence than ever. Democrats and Republicans have destroyed – together – the notion that our government is “Of the people, For the People, and By the People”.
It does not matter to the power brokers on either side of the aisle that poll after poll in the last several months demonstrated overwhelming support from the American public for Single Payer health care. It does not matter to these same power brokers that a consortium of over 15,000 health care workers and physicians support single payer legislation – and want it passed sooner rather than later - in order to prevent another death cycle of 45,000 Americans who are uninsured or under-insured. Americans have no access to anything but emergency care at best, and not even that for fear of falling into the trap of immediate bankruptcy following a visit to their local emergency room to deal with a situation that could have easily been prevented with adequate care prescribed much earlier in the individual’s life had that individual ( and the thousands of them ) been able to visit a doctor without the discriminatory factor of wealth being a determining cause for their inability to schedule even a regular, preventative-type visit, to a favorite, qualified physician.
It does not matter because these power brokers are in the pockets of the corporations that simply want to continue to dictate who they will cover, and under what conditions they will provide coverage, in order to satisfy particularly well-refined formulas to maximize profits driven by our illnesses. They need us to be sick (but not too sick, initially) to siphon dollars and expand their bottom lines towards record quarterly and yearly profits, boost the resumes of the drug companies they actively pimp for in doctors’ offices after doctors’ offices, and ultimately drive those of us that are trying to keep up into a stage of financial ruin, without any long term measurable health improvement status.
And then once we cannot pay, they drop of us from coverage, force use into emergency care (if any at all), bankruptcy, and eventual death – each degrading step that could have been prevented or otherwise curtailed utilizing a single payer system.
So today we see the demise of the Weiner Amendment because some on the supposed “left” believe it was a flawed strategy to have a debate about single payer on the House floor. What could have been a fine litmus test as to how the movement for real reform is moving forward, has now been derailed from the “left” – by Democrats – much to the delight of Republican who have no intention of fixing a broken system, as well as to the delight of the corporate dollars that will continue to flow so we plebians on the ground, working so hard to guarantee the right to secure universal health care rather than keep it as privilege for the wealthy minority alone, will continue to flounder, and – yes – die. Daily.
This is not a government Of the People, For the People, or By the People.
This is a government for Aetna, by BlueCross Blue Shield, and from Cigna. Follow the contributions. Watch the votes. And if you are still alive after the abysmal bill makes the light of day, know that continued mobilization for comprehensive health care, should, must, and will continue – until we have a civilized Single Payer health care system like every other industrialized nation in the world.
Every human being in this country deserves adequate health care. Not emergency care, not a policy document provided by a corporation seeking to profit from your ill health, but a clear, clean system where preventive care is a priority and ability to pay (wealth) is not a discriminatory factor.
What we do not need is a corrupt ruling class of Democrats and Republicans dictating to us what we should “want, accept, or otherwise compromise”. What we do not then need to do is meekly follow through on that acceptance, like sheep heading to slaughter.
“Of the people, for the people, by the people”. It is a simple concept. Or was, until the two major parties agreed behind closed doors and on the floors of limited debate in the halls of Congress as dictated by their massive corporate campaign sponsors and paymasters.
It is well beyond time we seize the day, and advocate and demonstrate loudly and without compromise what we deserve. Health Care for all. Now.
Get engaged, donate, and do your part (and more) to get past the capitulation on the left, the brain dead stonewalling on the right, and disgusting display of lobbying on the part of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries that refuse to recognize health care as a right for human beings in this great country of ours.