"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including . . . medical care . . ."
Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on December 10, 1948
Maine AllCare at the COMMON GROUND FAIR
Please click on photo to see more snapshots of Maine AllCare at the Common Ground Fair.
Unity, Maine – Hundreds of visitors stopped by the Maine AllCare table at the Common Ground Fair to ask questions and share their views about our health care system, how it's working (or not) and how we can transform it into a universal system that covers everyone.
The most popular activity turned out to be the "ping-pong vote". We had a basket full of ping-pong balls that served as ballots which people put in either the YES or NO slot of the question box which asked: Do you believe that health care is a human right? To say that the vote was lopsided is an understatement. By early afternoon Friday, September 19th, the first day of the Fair, we had 134 YES votes and 5 NO votes. Among those saying no, one person chose to vote twice, minutes apart; apparently his antagonism got the better of his sense of fairness.
Saturday and Sunday the results were similar, with virtually everyone favoring the idea of health care as a human right. Thanks to each of you who came by, asked questions, or shared your story. If you did not get to join us at the Fair and have a health care story to tell, particularly financial challenges, please write to us; a paragraph or two outlining your experience will do, and If need be, we will contact you for more information.
What Can Maine Doctors Do?
Return medicine to its healing roots — help educate and advocate for universal, single-payer health care that covers every Maine resident
- Join Maine AllCare mailing list, and volunteer to help, including supporting financially
- Join PNHP — www.pnhp.org
- Visit our websites regularly — www.maineallcare.org & www.philcaper.net for more information
- Organize and make your voices heard through the Maine Medical Association
- Doctors have lost influence during the past 30 years or so, but we are far from powerless – they don’t have much of a business without us!
- Doctors are still influential – make your views known
- Write op-eds and letters to the Editor of your local paper
- Testify in person and in writing before the relevant legislative committees when legislation affecting health care is being considered. MAC can help organize these efforts
- Organize speaking events directed at professions and lay audiences for Maine AllCare speakers
- Grand rounds
- Local and specialty medical societies
- Community forums, church groups, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Chambers of Commerce
If you have ideas about how else we might advance the cause of universal health care here in Maine, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and and put "Idea" in the Subject line. Thank you.
Senior docs in Maine strongly support single-payer
MANCHESTER – A discussion of the desirability of switching to a single-payer health care system for the people of Maine was conducted by MAC Board members Philip Caper, M.D., Senator Geoff Gratwick, M.D. and Representative Charlies Priest under the auspices of the Senior Section of the Maine Medical Association on August 20, 2014 at the Association's headquarters in Manchester Maine.
About 50 physicians attended, the largest turnout in the history of the Senior Section programs. The participants spent over 90 minutes discussing the pros and cons of converting the people of Maine from our present private-insurance dominated system to one more closely resembling a single-payer system, and was held as a follow-up to the recent 2014 poll of MMA members showing 64% of Maine physicians answering the poll favored a single-payer system, up from 52% in 2008.
A straw poll at the end of the session showed that, although there were some strong opponents in the room, almost 90% of those attending the session favored a single-payer system at the end of the discussion.
Small ¢ontribution$ toward a big idea — Universal Health Care in Maine
We at Maine AllCare invite you to join our Universal Dollar Fundraising Campaign. We are asking for small, recurring donations. Monthly contributions of two, five or ten dollars from many people will create a modest, but stable and reliable funding source to help pay for printing the brochures, handouts and newsletters we use at community meetings around the state. Other costs add up fast, such as theaters rentals for showing the award-winning documentary, The HEALTHCARE Movie.
Please consider making a recurring donation of any amount to support our education and advocacy for universal health care in Maine. Anyone who makes a recurring donation will receive the above “button” as a “Thank You” until our supply runs out. (We have hundreds). We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Your contributions are tax deductible. It’s easy. Simply click on the blue Donate button on the left and fill in the brief form; and don’t forget to select the “Donation frequency.” One more thing: The more donor/supporters we have, not in dollars but in numbers, the more our combined voices are heard and the closer we get toward a majority who believe that every Mainer should have affordable, quality health care! Thank you.
Good news for Healthcare for Everyone in Maine! Our support is growing.
The results are in: Single-payer 64 – Current system 36
On Monday, March 10th the Maine Medical Association (MMA) released the results of their recent survey on their members’ “attitudes and opinions about the directions which reform of our current healthcare system should take...” The crux of the 462 responders’ message was a resoundingYES in support for universal, single-payer coverage of all Mainers.
12-point Increase in Physician Support of Single-payer Health Care in Maine between 2008 and 2014
The survey, a repeat of one completed in 2008, was the product of a resolve introduced by Drs. Petzel, Dillihunt, Maier and Maine AllCare president Pease during the MMA’s annual meeting in October 2013. You can read more about the complete results here, as it appeared in the MMA “Spotlight” feature, online.
Maine Health care FACT
Maine’s uninsured population rose from 135,000 individuals in 2012 to 147,000 in 2013, an increase of 12,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (story)
HEALTHCARE INFORMATION FOR MAINE VOTERS
5 Questions and 5 Facts
Editor's note: The following voter information was developed by Maine AllCare members William D. Clark, MD and Gail Eaton, MBA.
All candidates for Maine House and Maine Senate should be able to tell voters how they would assure that every Mainer has access to comprehensive healthcare, and how their position would affect both the Maine economy and Mainers’ expenses.
Questions You Could Ask Your Candidates
- How would you get all Mainers access to comprehensive medical care?
- Would you vote for Medicaid expansion in Maine? Why?
- Would you vote to fund healthcare for all Mainers with a simple, universal and fair tax program (like, for example, Social Security)? Why?
- Would you vote to change Maine’s current profit-oriented healthcare system to a patient-oriented one, such as improved Medicare for all? Why?
- What methods to contain and minimize Mainers’ healthcare expenses would you vote for?
Top Maine Healthcare Facts
Maine Economy and a Patient-Oriented System: Transition to a Medicare-for-All type system would cover every Mainer AND, save a billion dollars the first year. (Dr. William Hsiao, healthcare policy expert, speaking to Maine Legislature, October, 2010.)
Maine Economy and Medicaid: If Maine accepted federal Medicaid funds . . .
- almost 70,000 Mainers (about half of whom are working) would gain health care access, AND
- Maine would gain about 4,400 jobs and over $500,000,000 in annual economic activity by 2016. (Maine Center for Economic Policy)
Maine Medical Association: 64% of MMA physicians favored a patient care-oriented, single-payer approach, rather than trying to improve our current profit-oriented system (Maine Medical Association, March, 2014)
Uninsured: between 100,000 and 130,000 Mainers lack insurance - even after full ACA coverage kicks in. (Health Affairs Blog, 2014)
Maine bankruptcy: More than 2000 personal bankruptcies were filed in Maine in 2013; and from validated national data, we estimate that 1400 were due to medical bills, and that ¾ of the 1400 had health insurance. (www.healthcareforallcolorado.org)
Maine AllCare vice president Dr. Phil Caper was guest on Mind Over Matters on July 19, 2014 on KEXP 90.3 FM, a Seattle, Washington, radio station that focuses on today's most important social, political and economic issues. Host Mike McCormick did a great job in asking, "So, who is making the money? Who is left out and not getting health care? What's the solution?" You may listen to this informative and wide ranging interview here.
Think about your health when you vote in November
By Dr. Philip Caper
Special to the BDN
October 16, 2014
Elections matter. And when it comes to health care, the upcoming election on Nov. 4 will matter a lot. This seems an appropriate time to take stock of where we stand.
I strongly believe in health care with dignity for everybody. When I took the Hippocratic Oath, I swore to put the patient first. That means treating people according to their medical needs, not their employment status, net worth, place of employment, age, gender, lifestyle or where they happen to live.
The United States spends more on health care — about 50 percent more — than any other wealthy country. Despite continuing to pour more and more money into health care, we still rank behind those countries on infant mortality, life expectancy, health care quality and access to needed care. The fact that we continue to do so every year tells us we need new thinking.
Where is all that money going? According to the Institute of Medicine, we in the U.S. waste $750 billion a year on our broken health care system.
The Affordable Care Act is a first step in trying to repair it. Offering federal subsidies for private insurance, expanding Medicaid and neighborhood health centers and regulating insurance industry abuses are important advances. We shouldn’t toss them aside. Repealing the ACA, as many conservatives propose, would be a disaster for Maine and for the country — unless we replace it with something better.
The ACA is in some ways a step forward, but it is not enough. Even with greatly expanded coverage, too many Americans will not see the benefits they would with a universal health care system.
Maine is the only state in New England that has failed to expand Medicaid and is one of just two states in the country where the number of people without health insurance increased in 2013. Expanding MaineCare would cover an additional 70,000 Mainers at almost no cost to the state and would inject nearly $1 million a day of federal revenue into our economy. Failure to do that — because of Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes, sustained by Republicans in the Legislature — has cost the people of Maine more than $300 million so far.
We can do much better than that. We need a simpler, less expensive system that includes everybody. We already have such system for seniors — it’s called “Medicare.” When Medicare was implemented by the federal government in 1965, 19 million people were enrolled within nine months, using index cards. There were no software glitches, no crashing websites and little confusion. There was no need to re-enroll every year. Once people are enrolled in Medicare, they stay in it for life.
We need to extend the benefits of Medicare to every Mainer and to every American. There are two ways we can accomplish this.
Congress could pass a new law expanding Medicare. There are bills in the House and the Senate that would do that. But we don’t need to wait for new national legislation. There is another way.
Starting in 2017, existing federal law allows individual states to design their own health care reform if it provides at least as many benefits at no greater cost. No more exchanges, mandates on businesses and individuals to buy private insurance, or hard-to-enforce tax penalties.
That opportunity shouldn’t be missed. Our neighbors in Vermont already have passed a law setting the goal of a single publicly financed health care system to include every Vermonter. They are now moving forward to implement that law. Rather than cutting more people from the rolls, Maine should retake its position as a national leader in health care.
The popular and successful Canadian health care system, which was once almost identical to ours, got started in one province: Saskatchewan. It was so successful that within 10 years it spread across the country.
According to William Hsiao, an internationally respected Harvard health care economist, we could save $1 billion a year in unnecessary administrative costs in Maine alone by making fundamental changes in the ways we finance health care. The money we save could then be invested in roads and bridges, improved public safety and educating our children. It would result in higher wages for our workers and would stimulate the creation of new businesses. It would free our people up to pursue their dreams, instead of being stuck in dead end jobs just to get health care benefits.
But those changes can’t and won’t be made without the full and energetic support of our people, our governor, our legislature and our entire congressional delegation.
That’s worth thinking about when you go to the polls Nov. 4.
Physician Philip Caper of Brooklin is a founding board member of Maine AllCare, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to making health care in Maine universal, accessible and affordable for all. He can be reached at email@example.com.