My guest today is Katie Robbins, of Healthcare NOW. Welcome to OpEdNews, Katie. The health care bill, for better or worse, has been passed with no universal health care, robust public option or public option of any kind. But Healthcare NOW has not thrown in the towel. Why not? What are you up to now?
Thanks so much for inviting me. It's great to have an opportunity to discuss this with you and your readers.
The new health law tinkers around the edges of our failed health care system. As long as we have private insurance in the mix, we will continue to see millions of people uninsured, tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and bankruptcies, poor health outcomes, more bureaucracy, corporate greed, and the world's most expensive health care system get more expensive.
Healthcare NOW seeks to support and grow the movement for health justice based on the merits of single-payer financing which will ensure that everyone can access the health care they need without rationing by ability to pay. Some folks see the road to single-payer through a public option, but Healthcare NOW seeks to build a movement that clearly demands a universal, equitable, and publicly accountable health system with everybody in and nobody left out. People don't want a choice of public or private insurance plans; they really want their choice of doctors and hospitals much like the choice available to people on Medicare.
Medicare, which just
celebrated its 45th anniversary, is the social insurance model we need to
improve and expand to meet the human right to health care in this country. This
week, single-payer activists from coast to coast organized dozens of
events celebrating Medicare's birthday, including a dance party for Medicare in
New York City.
This anniversary holds special weight because of the formation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, aka the Deficit Commission, which is looking to recommend cuts to Medicare and Social Security as soon as this December. In response, Healthcare NOW is urging Members of Congress and Federal Candidates to take a pledge declaring that they will protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by taking them off the table of the Deficit Commission. The pledge also calls for a single-payer, Improved Medicare for All System (HR 676) to go back up for national discussion.
If these folks are serious about reducing the deficit, they should look to the kind of cost controls a single-payer system can provide. Hundreds of billions can be saved by negotiating the purchase of prescription drugs and medical equipment, along with the elimination of the waste of the private insurance companies. Of course, cutting the military budget and taxing the wealthy should also be included in any discussion on reducing the deficit, but these folks are set on cutting Social Security and Medicare. That's why Healthcare NOW launched a new (tongue in cheek)campaign"Hands off our Medicare!" You can find out more at www.handsoffourmedicare.org. It's time to be as loud as possible to stop these cuts. Our most important social safety net programs are in serious danger. We must protect the successful social insurance programs we do have, so we can continue to expand and improve them in the future.