We had a really good debate going about Universal Healthcare
last year. I wanted to re-open that debate and go in a slightly different direction with it, but I would highly encourage everyone to review the old one because there is some very good information there.
An article in the SF Chronicle lays out a few facts
- 44 Million Americans are uninsured
- The Independent Institute of Medicine, affiliated with the prestigious National Academy of Science, urged the United States to adopt universal health coverage by 2010.
- HMO's (widely regarded as the cheapest option) eat up roughly 35% of their revenue with administrative costs, advertising and profits.
Also another fact which comes from a recent announcement by GM
about mass layoffs is that employers are feeling the burn from increased health care costs. GM blames a lot of their woes on health care, I don't necessarily agree with that but that is a subject of another debate.
Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) has been working on a single payer plan for California for over a year. At the end of May, 2005 it passed the Senate and it is currently under consideration in the Assembly. It is called the California Health Insurance Reliability Act (SB 840). You can find the web site devoted to it here
and a summary (pdf) here
There is a lot of information to absorb here, but here are some of the selling points:
# Eligibility is based on residency.
# No California resident will ever again lose his or her health insurance.
# NO NEW SPENDING - The system will be paid for by monies already being spent on health care and by insurance premiums.
# Replaces all premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket payments and co-pays now paid by employers and consumers.
# ELIMINATES WASTE - Consolidates the functions of many insurance companies into one comprehensive insurance plan.
# SAVES BILLIONS EACH YEAR. Currently, HALF of every dollar spent on health care is squandered.
# California will use its purchasing power to buy Rx drugs and DME bulk.
# Consumers have total freedom to choose their personal primary care provider.
# Health care providers and facilities will receive fair reimbursement.
# CHIRA utilizes proven financial incentives.
# The plan invests in needed health care infrastructure.
It is widely believed that this plan will not only save healthcare consumers money, insure that all Californians are covered, and improve medical services and infrastructure, but also save businesses money and make the state much more competitive. Every business that offers healthcare currently pays thousands of dollars per employee for health coverage (depending on their size and benefits package). Under this plan that cost would go away at no additional cost to the state or employees.
Questions for debate:1. Do you believe that Keuhl's plan is a good solution to the Healthcare problem? Why or why not?2. If this is passed in California and is successful, given the benefits do you believe other states might adopt similar systems?3. If you don't support a federal single payer system, would you support such a system at the state level?