"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
Learning, Sharing and Celebrating
PORTLAND - Maine AllCare board member Jim Perley, center, with other leaders at the August 16, 2014 greater Portland community celebration of Health Care is a Human Right (HCHR) campaign. The Southern Maine Workers Center initiated the idea along with the Maine Nurses Association and the Portland chapter of NAACP. The event included balloons for the kids, a free clinic, teach-in speakers and local artists showing their work – all to advance the cause of universal health care here in Maine.
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 AllCare at the Belfast HarborFest
Belfast – August 16, 2014
Maine AllCare volunteers and board members spent an enjoyable and productive Saturday, August 16th at the Belfast HarborFest. This free, family-friendly public event was sponsored by the Belfast Rotary Club. Many "thanks" to the Rotarians and to John Carrick, President, for inviting Maine AllCare.
We had a chance to listen to personal stories about people who still struggle to receive – and even more importantly, to pay for – needed health care services. A grandmother from Massachusetts, a doctor from Minneapolis, a physician's assistant from Maine, and Belfast residents who stopped by our table all agreed that universal access to healthcare is a good thing. In fact, it's essential to the overall health and economic success of our state.
Maine AllCare Speakers Bureau member Pat Carrick and our newest volunteer, Liz Solet listen to a Belfast resident's "health care challenge" story.
They encouraged us to continue our education and advocacy. Even without the latest data (see graph below) that shows Americans are paying 50%-280% percent more than people in other developed countries, people who spoke with us said that we need a new system, not a fix like the Affordable Care Act. One that's fair and affordable and covers everyone. A simple, easy-to-use system that is publicly funded and accountable to the people, such as Medicare for All.
Please join the hundreds of supporters of universal health care in Maine by subscribing to our periodic emails that help keep you informed about major health care-related issues in Maine, as well as upcoming community events sponsored by Maine AllCare. In addition, we'd like to encourage you to check Dr. Phil Caper's "Daily News Clips", a blog that includes top stories from around the nation about health care reform. Joe Lendvai, Communications – Maine AllCare
Americans pay significantly more for health care than people in other developed countries – yet, while these other countries cover everyone, we do not; and they have better outcomes!
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.
The costs of complexity in health reform just keep rising
By Dr. Philip Caper
Special to the BDN
August 14, 2014
As I’ve written before, the costs of unnecessary complexity in health care reform are very high, and they are rising. There are at least three recent examples.
One is the flap over whether people who have received health insurance through the exchanges run by the federal government are eligible to receive government subsidies, as they have been led to believe. Courts have disagreed on this point, opening the door for yet one more food fight about the legality of portions of the Affordable Care Act.
Complex federal legislation, inevitably the product of many authors, is usually full of many minor (and some major) errors. These errors are usually corrected during the process of reconciling the differing House and Senate versions during the “conference committee” process.
Because of the divisive politics leading up to the passage of the ACA, no such committee was ever convened.The House of Representatives simply passed the Senate bill without changes — errors and all — eliminating the need for a House-Senate conference.
One of those errors was the granting of explicit authority for the exchanges run by the states, but not the federal government, to provide subsidies to people they enrolled, even though any common-sense interpretation would conclude that congressional intent was to give all exchanges, whether state or federal, such authority.
Nevertheless, that omission provided an exploitation opportunity to those looking for an excuse to sabotage the entire law. And exploit it they have, bringing a lawsuit that could end up in the Supreme Court. The costs of the ACA in dollars and confusion have risen as a result.
Another example is the (on its face) ridiculous attempt to sue President Barack Obama for failing to enforce with enough enthusiasm a provision of the law requiring some employers to offer health insurance to their employees or pay a fine. This puts Republicans in the interesting position of threatening to sue Obama for failing to vigorously enforce a law they have repeatedly tried to repeal.
Additionally, billions of dollars have been spent unsuccessfully trying to construct exchanges that comply with the complicated federal requirements imposed by the ACA in an attempt to perfect a marketplace for private insurance. Even some states (such as Massachusetts) where exchanges created pre-Obamacare were already working have experienced chaos, and because of it have thrown tons of their own and federal dollars down a rathole.
These are just a few examples of your tax (and health care) dollars at work. Even though these complexities provide full employment for thousands of lawyers, consultants, navigators and other helpers, they don’t buy even one Band-Aid’s worth of health care.
The real tragedy here is that if the “policymakers” in Washington were really interested in serving the needs of most of their constituents instead of those of their corporate contributors, all of this expense and confusion could have been avoided. Perhaps instead spent on providing care to the millions who will be left out, even after Obamacare is fully implemented.
The sole purpose of the exchanges is to provide a choice of insurance companies. But the fact is that most people don’t give a hoot about who their insurance carrier is. What they do care about is who their health care provider is. In yet another unintended consequence of this complex law, many insurance companies are doing their best to limit that choice in order to save themselves money.
Ironically, it is actually cheaper to cover everybody than it is to spend all of the unnecessary time, money and effort collecting the information needed to slice and dice people into smaller and smaller risk pools so we can then decide which of them “deserve” health care. Moreover, risk pools of different types of people (old/young, wealthy/poor, employed/not employed, well/sick) create yet another opportunity for politicians to play us off, one against the other.
I fully expect this unnecessary complexity of the ACA to continue to be exploited by those looking to make a quick buck or another destructive or disingenuous political point. That is unless and until we put a stop to it by sending an unmistakable message to politicians who refuse to do the right thing that we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. A simple expansion of Medicare to everybody would do the trick, and eliminate almost all of the unnecessary complexity of our insurance industry.
If we were all in the the same system, we’d all have a stake in making it work. That’s how it is in other wealthy countries. Compared to the chaos we have here, that sounds pretty good to me.
What do you think?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.