The Door is Open Now: How to Get Medicare for Everybody in Broome County

By  Ron Jones

In 2009 when Washington was all tied up with the health care reform debate, Montana Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee said everything was on the table for discussion except “single payer.”  A group of doctors, nurses and others Single Payer advocates in the gallery that day stood up to protest.  Baucus had them arrested and hauled away.

 Single Payer is another way to describe Medicare for everyone. It is the least expensive health insurance system there is, because it eliminates the middle man—insurance companies.  It is how 37 out of the 38 industrialized nations of the world take care of the health care needs of their citizens.  (The USA is the only  one that doesn’t).  Under single payer everyone is covered for all their medical, dental and vision needs.  And, it costs far less to fund than our current for-profit system.  But, of course, our entrenched insurance companies fight long and hard to keep us from implementing a single payer system nationwide.  If adopted nationwide, it would cut deeply into their profits.

 So, when Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in his home state he turned to one of the two existing single payer systems we currently have – Medicare – to solve the problem.  The disaster was caused by a vermiculate mine that had spread deadly airborne asbestos, killing hundreds and sickening thousands in Libby and northwest Montana.  Those affected contracted the lung disease mesothelioma or, asbestosis and most had no insurance to cover the cost of treatment.

 Unknown to the public, Baucus inserted into the above mentioned healthcare reform bill, a provision that would guarantee Medicare coverage to the entire community in and around Libby and, it would be free.

 The provision became effective when the Affordable Health Care bill was passed but was available only to the people currently living in Libby or who were living there when the mining company W.R. Grace allowed the outbreak to happen.  Baucus even had Social Security Administrator Nancy Berryhill from the Denver SSA office travel to Libby and sign people up.  When a New York Times reporter asked Baucus how he could justify what he did for people in his home state he responded, “…Public health tragedies like this could happen in any town in America.  We need this type of mechanism to help people when they need it most.” 

 Who could disagree with that?  Now, how about the citizens of the rest of your state – and those in the other 49 states.  You know the fifty million other US citizens that have no health insurance coverage at all?  Isn’t that a tragedy for them?  Why not extend coverage to them?  In fact to everyone?

How many people in Binghamton have no health insurance coverage?  Endicott?  Johnson City?  All of Broome County?  Probably four to five thousand people.  Maybe more.  And, many others have minimal coverage. 

What about getting single payer coverage (Medicare) for all Broome County residents?  I guarantee your property taxes would decrease because of it.  By a huge margin.

 What to do? 

Call County Executive Pat Brennan, your mayors and your village and town boards and city  councils and ask them to seek help from Senators Schumer and Gilibrand along with Representatives Hinchey and Hanna.  Tell ‘em Max Baucus sent ya’. 






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