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PNHP responds to Shumlin's betrayal on universal health care

I got this press release in mail, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere on the web yet. So herewith:

Single payer in Vermont and the U.S.: Now IS the time

The following statement was released today by Dr. Andrew D. Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Program:

Today, Vermont’s governor, after campaigning for single payer for years, announced that he would not work to pass single-payer legislation in Vermont this year.

“Single payer” is shorthand for a reform that will replace the present wasteful and chaotic system of private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and out-of-pocket cash payments with a single public finance system that will redirect resources in order to guarantee access to all necessary care for everyone, which would include many essentials not covered by any present plan.

Governor Peter Shumlin, in his press conference, stated that “now is not the right time” for single payer.

I disagree.

The time for a single-payer system is now. Our patients in every state urgently need it.

Indeed, the people of Vermont, including the state’s physicians, nurses and other caregiving professionals, have repeatedly affirmed their support for single-payer reform.

Vermonters throughout the state understand that an equitable health care system must be truly universal and must remove all financial barriers to medically necessary care. They recognize that a public single payer is an essential incremental step toward these goals.

The people of Vermont have said health care should be regarded as a public good, much like fire protection, and not as a commodity you buy on the market. Gov. Shumlin was elected to office in considerable part because of his championing of this view.

Single-payer activists in Vermont have pointed out that by eliminating the unnecessary and wasteful role of private insurance companies – middlemen who put their profits above the interests of our patients — resources will be liberated to improve the health of all.

Dr. William Hsiao, the Harvard health economist who Gov. Shumlin recruited to study the impact of single payer in Vermont, estimated that a single-payer-like reform (not a true single payer, since there would still be multiple plans, including private plans) would achieve an overall savings of over 25 percent on health care spending (10 percent delivery system savings, 8.5 percent overhead savings, 5 percent reduction in fraud and 2 percent saved through lower malpractice costs.)

Gov. Shumlin today stated that the costs of his proposed reform would be too great, saying, “The taxes required to replace health care premiums with a publicly financed plan that would best serve Vermont are, in a word, enormous.” (The governor’s finance proposal would have instituted an 11.5 payroll tax on employers and a progressive income tax of zero to 9.5 percent, depending on income.) The governor did not dwell upon the fact that the taxes he cited would be less, on average, than the exorbitant and burdensome premiums and out-of-pocket costs that presently weigh heavily upon households as well as employers.

Gov. Shumlin also invoked “risk of economic shock” as a reason to turn away from single payer — the idea that the transition to a Vermont without private health insurance, a Vermont without profiteers lining up to make a buck off the suffering of the sick, would prove too threatening to the social order.

Gov. Shumlin has made many speeches about the need to liberate Vermont, and indeed the United States, from the corrupting and corrosive influence of profit-seeking in health care. Yet from its inception, the enabling legislation for reform in Vermont – Act 48 – allowed a continuing role for private insurers alongside public payers. Lawmakers therefore dropped the term “single payer” from its text.

The continued presence of multiple payers in the proposed Vermont reform necessarily canceled out many of the administrative savings that would be attained by a true single-payer system and opened the door to multi-tiered care along the lines of what the Affordable Care Act currently represents.

It’s important to note that the Affordable Care Act has increased the influence of the big insurers and other private interests in our health care system. Strengthening these forces has hurt our patients and the profession of medicine in all states, including Vermont.

Today’s announcement by Gov. Shumlin, a leading light in the Democratic Party, thus shows the difficulty that individual states face in trying to disentangle themselves from these private corporate interests. It shows why physicians and Americans as a whole need to step up the demand for a deep-going, national reform – an improved Medicare for all.

It is time to put the interests of patients first, ahead of political expedience. Now IS the time for single payer in Vermont and in the nation. It is the only reform that will cover everyone, save lives, and save money. Mr. Shumlin, of all our nations’ governors, knows this well.

We pledge to redouble our efforts to press for national legislation – such as H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act – to achieve the goal of universal access to high-quality, affordable care. We invite Gov. Shumlin to rededicate himself to the cause of a public national health program.

As Hillel, the great ancient sage, famously asked, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And, if I am only for myself alone, then what am I? And, if not now, when?”

Now is the time to press forward, not retreat. Our patients do not deserve to wait.

Assholes. Worse then I ever imagined, even for Democrats.

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albrt's picture
Submitted by albrt on

Worse then I ever imagined, even for Democrats.

I wish I felt that way. I lived in Vermont for three years, so I understand the temptation to believe that Vermont is different. But the fact is this got much further than it ever would have under any other set of Democrats.

I think it is fair to say that Vermont Democrats are well above average nationally, if not the absolute pinnacle of stab-the-hippies-in-the-back-instead-of-punching-them Democratism.

Submitted by lambert on

... to punch the hippies. First, there are so many more of them. Second, it's a battle for control and the soul of the state.

I should have thought of that!

Can you give more examples?

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

A business periodical from June, boasting how Vermont's single payer plan was toast:

There are many, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who contend that the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, is a major step toward a single-payer system for the United States...bzzzzt! Wrong!

ObamaCare has beefed up the strength of the health insurance industry. Millions of new clients have been added. Billions in subsidies were just granted to health insurers by the Obama administration… Overall, the health insurance industry is much stronger as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/12726216/1/vermont-wants-aetna-cigna-and-...

I never accepted that it brought us closer to 'single payer'. If the Democrat gov of Vermont, who won by dangling that carrot does this- I think we're sunk

Submitted by lambert on

... single payer is an Obot lie, which Republicans repeat for their own purposes of demonization.

In fact, Heritage -> RomneyCare -> ObamaCare was explicitly designed to head off ObamaCare.

Submitted by lambert on

... that ObamaCare is a road to single payer. There's never been any justification for that view, IMSNSHO. No quotes from party notables. Just a made up, faithy talking point.

Barmitt O'Bamney's picture
Submitted by Barmitt O'Bamney on

Now that enough time has passed and they think they've buried it deeply enough, the Obots (the ones I used to talk to) have moved on to insisting that market based insurance is better anyway (besides what's so great about Single Payer? Who died and made Single Payer Queen of the Galaxy??) And besides you were never going to get Single Payer, or any government-run health care. So why can't you be happy with crappy government-run extortion Obamacare? It's going to be better. (Oh sure Single Payer would make you whiny leftists feel better in a cheap, instant gratification sort of way. But Obamacare will be better for you because you worked for it. Even if it takes you three jobs to pay for it) You can tell it's better because of all the Obama that it is in it. Says Obama right on the tin.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

of all the Obama that is in it."

ICK! Funny, but kinda gross too. Are they still this creepy? I think I may have been blessed not to actually know any...the Republicans and Libertarians are bad enough.