"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
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.
Please click on photo to see more snapshots of Maine AllCare at the Common Ground Fair.
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.
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.
The troubling way we pay hospitals in Maine and throughout the US
By Dr. Philip Caper
Special to the BDN
September 18, 2014
A study published in the current issue of Health Affairs found that hospitals in the U.S. spend about twice as much per capita on administration as the seven other countries studied. If spending on administrative costs were reduced to the average level of spending in the other countries, we could reduce by about $150 billion the $750 billion a year we waste in health care.
These findings reminded me of my recent trip to Nova Scotia. While there, I visited a small hospital on Cape Breton. I asked the hospital’s director what they charge for a CT scan. “We don’t charge for every test,” she replied, “but simply bill the provincial health fund for each day in the hospital. The cost of the CT scan is bundled in. The only time we charge individually for CT scans is if we treat a visiting American and think it is worth the trouble to bill their insurance company.”
“May I speak to somebody in your billing department about CT scan prices?” I asked.
“Sure, but you’ll have to come back another day,” the hospital’s director replied. “She (meaning the billing ‘department’) only works part-time.”
Compare that to the gargantuan billing departments in U.S. hospitals.
In talking to the long-serving doctors at that Canadian hospital about their experience practicing medicine, I was struck by how much their focus is on patient care, not money. Money is almost all I hear about when I talk to American doctors and hospital directors.
In Canada there is only one insurance company: the provincial government. A bill for each patient is sent to the province and is paid (no questions asked) within several weeks.
Like most other wealthy countries, they have simplified a lot of costs out of their health care system. In contrast, U.S. hospitals must deal with scores of insurance plans (each playing by their own rules); submit detailed bills for every test, procedure, drug or other supply; and then be prepared to justify them as hospitals try to maximize their revenues and insurance companies try to minimize their “medical losses.” Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act is complicating things even more.
All of this fighting about money costs plenty of it and contributes to the unconscionable amount of waste documented by the Health Affairs study while actually interfering with patient care. The effects of this money-driven system on the quality of care may be even more damaging than the financial costs.
In the U.S., hospital managers spend huge amounts of time, effort and money chasing and maximizing profitable revenue. They do this in two ways. The most obvious is fighting directly with insurance companies over payment — when and whether to pay and if so, how much.
But less well-known and understood are the powerful ways our insurance-based system affects the types of services hospitals offer and promote, and the ways doctors practice. Caregivers are strongly encouraged by hospital managers to promote services that are profitable and discouraged from recommending those that are not, often without much regard to the actual needs of patients.
A physician employed by a large Maine hospital recently complained to me about her resentment at being pressured by hospital management to order completely unnecessary tests and procedures in order to meet the hospital’s revenue goals. Doctors throughout Maine, and the U.S., can relate to that.
That’s why we have hospitals with too many scanners and other fancy and expensive gadgets and too few primary care physicians. That’s why physicians are forced to see too many patients and spend too little time with each of them. That’s why more and more physicians are burning out and retiring. This will not change until we change the ways we pay hospitals and our “healthcare is a business” culture.
Canada and most other wealthy countries have shown that there are better ways to do things. Hospitals there are on a lump-sum budget or something very similar. The pursuit of revenue that is so consuming in U.S. hospitals is mostly eliminated.
If we were to adopt a similar system here, doctors and hospital managers in the U.S. would be able to focus on how to best provide care to their communities. Most would likely jump at the chance if they believed the corporate interests and their political enablers who are blocking real reform would allow it to happen.
That would save money and improve the quality of care at the same time. What’s not to like about that?
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.