Medicare for AllPosted: January 9, 2016
On Thursday, November 12th more than 45 people came together to hear Dr. Robin Eastman Abaya and Professor Leonard Rodberg, both members of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) discuss Medicare for All. Medicare for All, Single Payer, Universal Health Care are all different ways of saying the same thing – all Americans, with no exceptions, would have access the health care. The community meeting, sponsored by the Broome Tioga Green Party, was open to the public and held at the Bundy Museum, on Binghamton’s West Side.
Dr. Eastman Abaya, a local pathologist spoke about those locally who are under insured and/or uninsured and how many people get sicker or even die from not having access to proper health care.
Health indicators from Broome County are terrible. There has been an increase in premature deaths and a dramatic increase in drug related deaths. Broome County, according to figures from the 2007-2011 Health Assessment, has a 1/3% higher crude mortality rate than the rest of NYS and the same is true for diabetes and cirrhosis. The infant mortality rate in Broome is 8.7/100,000 births while the rate in NYS is 5.3 and the U.S. rate is up to 6.2. Broome County’s rate places us between Alabama and Mississippi.
Many people in rural areas see only nurse practitioners because doctors are not available. Young doctors move to urban areas so they can make enough money to pay off their massive education debts. The result is that life expectancy for large segments of the low income rural and small towns in Broome and throughout America is dropping. People cannot afford to be independent workers because they cannot afford any existing health care plan.
Professor Rodberg, Chair of Urban Studies at Queens College and a co- founder and the Research Director of the Metro-Chapter of PNHP discussed what a Single Payer Plan would mean in the United States. Prof. Rodberg told us that the U.S. is the only industrialized country without Universal Health Care. Even Mexico, our neighbor to the south, provides health care to all its citizens. Prof. Rodberg stated that from 1999 to 2012 health care costs have increased about 100% for individuals and 200% for family coverage. In 1999 health insurance for a family was $6,100, that cost today is $16,000. The coverage is becoming prohibitive for the average earner. The number of people with private coverage is shrinking while Medicaid coverage is expanding. The number of uninsured keeps growing steadily. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) has not succeeded in providing better coverage at lower cost as was promised because the public still has to buy health insurance. The ACA has enlarged Medicaid for the poor but has expanded private insurance for the rest. Because the U.S relies on unregulated private insurance our costs for health care are much higher than anyone else in the industrialized world. Patients must often struggle with insurance companies to obtain necessary medical treatment.
What Can Be Done?
We need to support a Single Payer System which would finance and handle all billing and payments for health care. No more insurance companies denying health care services to those in need. A single payer healthcare system would guarantee healthcare to everyone and provide an incentive to keep people healthy. Nationally – HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All calls for just that.
In NYS, the New York Health Bill would create a Universal Single Payer Plan to provide comprehensive health coverage to all New Yorkers. Passed by the Assembly in the spring of 2015, it still needs to be passed by the NYS Senate and then signed into law by Governor Cuomo.
It is up to all residents of the area to demand of our representatives, that a Medicare for All plan be made available to all people in NYS. Bring this issue up each time an elected representative gets near you.
The Green Party of New York as well as the Broome Tioga Green Party is committed to the passage of Medicare for All/Single Payer Plan.