Broadcast 1/18/2016 at 4:27 PM EST (44 Listens, 26 Downloads, 1901 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast
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Richard Master CEO of MCS Industries, Inc. -- -- which is now the leading manufacturer of picture frames and decorative mirrors in the U.S. with sales approaching $200 million. He funded, through his foundation, the movie, Fix It, which is about the problems with healthcare insurance and the need for Single Payer health care.
Chuck Pennacchio is Associate Professor of History and Politics, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Executive Director of Healthcare for All Pennsylvania, Associate Producer of "Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point"
Interview rough notes.
where no respondent is indicated it is usually Richard Master.
Rob: Why did you make this movie?
I was out of the country. My son was introducing us to future in-laws in Chile. He developed an allergic reaction he bought an inhalator for $15 that would cost $150 in the US. At the same time my company was going through negotiations regarding insurance increases.
Rob: what were the most shocking, surprising things you learned in your two year saga?
It's almost every rock you turn over in this investigation is another outrage. We do not negotiate for pharmaceutical drugs in this country. As a result we pay 40-50% more in this country than any other country in the world. Healthcare is eating the economy alive. It is 10-15% of local school district budget.
Rob: your documentary, Fix It. MCS pays $1.5 million for health insurance.How would that change under single payer?
Rob: Would it save your company money?
Rob: Are there other ways that single payer help your company.
It's mostly an economic argument but it's also an argument for prevention. When people have to pay a deductible" most families don't have two or four five thousand dollars for deductible. So, from a preventative care this would be transformative.
We would not be concerned about older employees. It's against the law to discriminate against older employees. But employers and HR professionals looking to moderate their costs are inclined to prefer younger employees, because insurance companies even under the affordable care act can charge three times as much for older employees than younger ones.
Rob: How would single payer help American companies in terms of international competition?
If you look at total medical bill in terms of gross domestic product it's at 18%. That's about twice the other companies. We're not competitive as a society.
We have a Canadian company CEO-- a conservative-- who said it is a non-starter to open in the United states. I can't do it because it would cost me an additional million dollars.
Rob: so there are whole industries that can't do business in the US because they can't compete with foreign companies that do not have to worry about
Chuck: we did a study in PA that found that it would generate 300-400,000 new jobs. It will raise wages for employees and give companies ability to compete worldwide
Richard: It would also transform how doctors work. There probably would be additional care that would be given, particularly to the 29 million people who don't have insurance coverage right now. You would also be eliminating the classism-- the stigma of medicaid.
Rob: Misconceptions and lies about single payer.
the biggest one is that that it costs more-- That's something
We're going to save $500 billion a year.
Rob: so, we're going to save $500 billion a year and cover everyone and get rid of co-pay.
Chuck: Dental and mental health, eye care, transport-- it's comprehensive health care. They're all covered.
Folks have a floor under their feet. Richard and team have put together the economic aspect.
Rob: more misconceptions and lies.
Chuck-- choice of provider. Under single payer you'll have far greater choice. Insurance companies preclude confine and limit who yu can see. You'll have choice of access to hospitals, providers"
Richard: we've looked at attitudinal studies among doctors. DOctors are not recommending that their children become doctors. All that complication has caused doctors to run into hospital networks. There's been a collectivization from doctors operating in association with a community hospital to becoming employees. We have mostly non-profit healthcare networks operating like for profit healthcare institutions. There is this psychology of the organization to grow and become more powerful You're seeing that in these hospitals.
Rob: It's centralization of healthcare, like there was centralization of mortgaging--
Richard: WE don't see that in Canada. The government is an escrow agent. Doctors are in private practice.
Chuck: The Canadians are far better at distributing health care. One of the canards of single payer is that it rations healthcare. Administrative costs in other countries. are 2-4% and it's 20-25% in the US.
Rob: the claim is that there are long waiting lists that lead to people dying. Is that true. single payer reduces quality-- people wait and die.
Chuck: some of the more specialized services,
RIchard: large out of pocket and deductible expenses-- people see self-rationing (in the US) at the beginning of the year elective surgeries are reduced.
Chuck: we are living under the terms of the ACA and we are seeing utilization of healthcare at a 30 year low. The problem in the US is not just the 29 million without insurance. It's the 100 million who are underinsured.
Rob: 100 million people underinsured. What does that mean?
Chuck: People have a piece of paper that says they have insurance. There are four tiers of insurance. Platinum, gold, silver, then bronze. At the top level people are paying a lot more in premiums and they have lower co-pays and deductibles. when you get to the bronze level, people have huge deductibles and co-pays, so folks don't have the wherewithal when they need it.
Richard. It become catastrophic, so they are not well covered
Look at a single mom makes $35,000 a year, with two kids. A low end plan requires her to come up with $3500 deductible. Where does she come up with it. So they stay away from the doctors.
Chuck: A third of the population are underinsured.
Rob: Are there statistics on how under the underinsured function differently regarding healthcare.
Richard: They cut their pills in half because they can't afford them. 25% OF PEOPLE who get a prescription don't fill their prescription, or go to the pharmacist instead of the doctor.
We're 19 out of 19 industrialized countries in terms of death by preventable disease because there are economic barriers to care.
NYU professor Victor Riley
People are dying from illnesses
Rob: How can people get this movie to watch it?
Richard> It is being circulated through healthcare now, PNHP, we have about 6000 copies out now. We want to educate individuals to educate o there.
They can get free a movie and kit and that will start them and they can go to their neighbors, kiwanis, rotary clubs and start this dialogue. Within a month or two
Rob: Have you taken this to any film festivals. This should win awards.
pnhp.org fixithealthcare.org healthcarenow
They can get the DVD from any of those.
Rob: are there any more myths or lies that attack single payer:
Richard: Depending on the year there 1-1.5 million personal bankruptcies in the US. About 60% of those bankruptcies are medical bill related. This is really a burden on people in the US and the anxiety that people feel . If they lose their job. What a terrible thing for a breadwinner to lose his or her job and to ultimately have the family not have care.
Rob: And it already does some o f that with Obamacare, and with existing conditions.
Rob: People hate Obamacare. Would they like medicare for all better.
Richard: People are waiting to get the care they need until they are 65.
Medicare is very efficient.
Rob: why would people like medicare better from a consumer point of view?
Richard: we have a concern about medicare advantage-- I don't think that's particularly helpful.
Chuck: 58% support expanded medicare for all.
Rob: What interests oppose single payer? hospitals, pharmaceuticals, medical device, insurers--
Richard: Let's look at pharmaceutical companies-- they, through lobbyists,
Medicare part D got a bill passed that prevents the government from negotiating pharmaceutical expense. Every year Obama sends up legislation to allow negotiation and it's not acted upon.
Chuck: Ours is only one of two c countries in the world that allows pharmaceutical companies to go on the airwaves and tells people they are sick.
They have more than 1100 lobbyists.
Richard: Why aren't big businesses getting behind this?
I think there's a good old boy network. You have organizations such as the business roundtable-- and when one industry is attacked, the other companies in the group defer to that industry to represent all industry in their dialogue with congress and they're a very important organization. The national chamber of congress takes an extraordinary amount of money to represent their interests.
Rob: Is there an organization of businesses advocating for single payer.
main street alliance, American Sustainable business conference
Our movie is directed to the businesses, to recognize that there's a better way.
A three trillion dollar medical bill. A third of it is commercial insurance.
Companies could save about $200 billion" wouldn't have to have HR departments having to negotiate insurance, but it is not easy for business leaders to turn on other businesses that may be exploiting them. We're fighting that battle.
Rob: besides the video how are you fighting the battle?
We're prototyping in the Lehigh valley of PA how to organize the community for healthcare reform.
Accountability in Health Care-- you say none in private. How is it done with medicare?
Rob: someone in your movie says "Pity the labor intense employer." I would assume that people don't start businesses at all that would employ a lot of employees because the health care ins would destroy the business.
Chuck: If we lift that burden from the business community we would see a flourishing. This is a free market solution. Single payer will allow our economy to perish.
Richard: We could give employees a raise, but if their premium share goes up, then the net is very modest. So this is impacting disposable income that's available to goods and services in a 70% consumer driven economy.
Rob: Costs to city, state, county, gov-- paid through taxes that citizens pay.
Rob: we need to wrap. Anything you want to finish up.
Chuck: what people do not understand is we are paying for so many hidden costs. We pay for it in local taxes, in property taxes, there are so many indirect costs that we don't realize. I think Bernie Sanders $5000 estimate is low. IT's a bait and switch it's killing our economy, crushing our middle class so we can't compete in the world.
Richard: I think there are a lot of well intentioned people in all of these areas, but the s ystem itself needs to be addressed. And it is such a huge proportion. We're talking about 20% of our economy. IF we could correct this we would have the financial resources to address infrastructure, financial support for education. it could create a paradise.
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