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"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

The first 50 years of Medicare – a report by the Commonwealth Fund

[the way life should be – universal health care for ALL Maine]

The first 50 years of Medicare

“For 50 years, Medicare has been a reliable guarantor of the health and welfare of older and disabled Americans by paying their medical bills, ensuring their access to needed health care services, and protecting them from potentially crushing health expenses.”

As Medicare enters its 50th anniversary year, now would seem a good time to reflect on a program that has transformed the lives of millions of elderly and disabled Americans while helping to shape the direction of U.S. health care overall.

In “Medicare at 50—Origins and Evolution,” the first of a two-part series in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Commonwealth Fund’s David Blumenthal, M.D., and Stuart Guterman, and Karen Davis of the Johns Hopkins University Lipitz Center for Integrated Healthcare tell the story of Medicare’s beginnings, review its impact on coverage and care, and discuss the key changes the program has undergone over the decades.

In part 2, the authors will describe some of the options for reforming Medicare so it can better meet its challenges, including the daunting task of controlling costs as millions more baby boomers enter the program. (read more)

 

Maine has 1,329,608 reasons for universal health care

Reason #4

Joanne Moore, Brunswick

“Just think of the billions of dollars that could be saved if we had a single payer healthcare system. No longer would the insurance companies take a third (or more) of the money spent on healthcare. Just think what this would mean to a family - no more thousand dollar a month premiums! What we would all pay into the "pot" would be far less.

I firmly believe healthcare is a right. In a nation as rich as we are there are no reasons why so many people of all ages should suffer under the brutal thumb of the insurance industry. An industry that cares more about profits than people. And never again would a catastrophic disease send us to the poorhouse”.

This quote appeared as a comment to an editorial by Edgar Allen Beam, which appeared in the The Forecaster on February 4, 2013

Reason #5

Scott Harriman

“I don't know what the answer is, but something major needs to happen regarding the cost of health insurance.It says something that the only time I have ever had health insurance was when I was single and making almost $50,000 a year. My parents couldn't afford it when I was growing up and my wife and I can't afford it now.”

This quote appeared as a Disqus comment to an editorial by Edgar Allen Beem, which appeared in the The Forecaster on February 4, 2013

Reason #6

Andy Ford, Portland

“We should have the medical insurance system that France has. It costs about half of what we pay, and insures all French citizens with insurance that actually pays the bills. A good description of their system is in T.R. Reid's excellent book, The Healing of America.”

This quote is an excerpt from the editorial in the FORECASTER posted on February 4, 2013.

 

Recommendations for Single Payer Healthcare Activists

Margaret Flowers, MD

by Margaret Flowers, MD

(Excerpted from a more extensive article posted on pnhp.org on January 8, 2015)

If we are to succeed in gaining single payer healthcare systems at the state or national level, we need more than the facts on our side. We must have political muscle that we are willing to flex.

After the 2009-10 national health reform process, I wrote an article that outlined three key elements for the single payer movement, calling it “I.C.U.” The “I” stands for independence because the movement must remain independent of political parties and their agendas; “C” for clarity, knowing what policies are real solutions and what are false solutions so that you can evaluate proposed policies; and “U” for uncompromising because as Gandhi said, “You cannot compromise on fundamentals for it is all give and no take.” We will keep getting crumbs if we are willing to take them.

Here is a summary of a few more recommendations:

  1. Organize a broad base using the human rights framework with the understanding that the struggle for health care is part of the broader struggle for social, economic and environmental justice.
  2. Understand how political power works so that the strategy and tactics that are used are effective. I think of it as a scientific approach that does not apply placebos but uses proven methods for social change.
  3. Demand that the reform process is transparent and allows public participation.
  4. Cultivate a proper relationship with lawmakers who are opposed to your position, one of persistent pressure on them that creates fear and loathing.
  5. Hold politicians accountable for their actions.
  6. Don’t be afraid to use your power. If the movement shows weakness, it will be exploited. If it shows strength, it will be respected.

The healthcare crisis and many crises continue in the United States. Our struggles will continue despite temporary setbacks. We must not give up. Let’s continue the conversation about next steps in our work for healthcare justice.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is co-director of It’s Our Economy, co-host of Clearing the FOG Radio and an organizer of the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. She is also with the Health Care is a Human Right campaign in Maryland.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Allocating money for social services, help with housing, disability, rehabilitation, anything that you can to make the person well should really be under our full umbrella of health care."

When asked what incentive there might be for Americans to support payments for these social services, in addition to the more traditional health care procedures, the physician recalled the high bills her patients used to run up in hospitals, and responded:

"I think you're paying for it anyway and you're going to pay more for it until we can figure out how to spend the money correctly. "

—From The American Health Care Paradox – Why Spending More Is Getting Us Less by Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A Taylor, page 148. Interview of primary care physician at a community health clinic.

Editor's Note: We agree, the way to spend money "correctly" and most effectively is through a universal system that provides comprehensive care to everyone in Maine; a single, accountable, publicly financed health care fund that pays all providers automatically, virtually eliminating administrative overhead. The doctor quoted also points out the essential interconnectedness of social services to good health.

 

Hot Off the Press – Health Care Systems in 15 Countries

Health Care Systems in 15 Countries report

If you ever asked how other wealthy countries provide health care to all their residents, we've got the answers. The Commonwealth Fund published an outstanding report on January 23, 2015, International Profiles of Health Care Systems. The publication provides the most current overview of health system organization and governance, quality and coordination, disparities, efficiency, recent reforms and innovations, how each system is financed and how much it costs. Summary tables (pages 6-9) provide data on key system characteristics and performance indicators.

The 15 countries profiled are: Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

Associated with the report is fun and useful QUIZ you can take to test your knowledge on health systems around the world.

 

Majority still supports single-payer option, poll finds

By Sarah Ferris
From The Hill
January 19, 2015

More than five years after the single-payer system was scrapped from ObamaCare policy debates, just over 50 percent of people say they still support the idea, including one-quarter of Republicans, according to a new poll.

The single-payer option – also known as Medicare for all – would create a new, government-run insurance program to replace private coverage. The system, once backed by President Obama, became one of the biggest casualties of the divisive healthcare debates of 2009.

The idea remains extremely popular among Democrats, with nearly 80 percent in support, according to the poll, which was shared first with The Hill by the Progressive Change Institute.

“There is a hunger in America for big progressive ideas," spokesperson TJ Helmstetter wrote in a statement. "The state of our union is progressive, and the president would be smart to give America the big, popular, progressive economic ideas that people have been crying out for.”

Another proposed idea under ObamaCare – the public option – also retains wide approval.

Only 13 percent of people said they opposed the public option, which would give individuals the choice of buying healthcare through Medicare or private insurers.

The Progressive Change Institute, which is a sister organization of the million-member Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has long supported the public option, which Helmstetter said would "level the playing field for consumers and dilute the power of insurance companies."

The approach was also an initial part of Obama's reform plan, though it was attacked by both parties on the Hill and was ultimately rejected in favor of a new, government-funded healthcare system based on subsidies.

At the time, Democrats leading the negotiations were accused of caving into corporate interests, while Obama was accused of “selling out.”

As recently as 2009, Obama has also said he is a proponent of the single-payer system, which remains far more controversial among policy experts.

The poll was comprised of 1,500 likely voters and was conducted this month by the firm GBA Strategies.

 

Maine drops to 20th in healthiest state rankings

December 11, 2014
By Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News

Maine fell from 16th to 20th in an annual national health ranking, dragged down by poverty and low vaccination rates among children, among other factors.

The state’s finish marks its worst since the nonprofit United Health Foundation launched its “America’s Health Rankings” in 1990.

healthranking

Nearly 21 percent of Maine children live in poverty, a rate that remains largely unchanged over the last 25 years. Less than 70 percent of children between 19 and 35 months of age receive recommended vaccines, placing Maine 35th in the country on that measure. Low immunization rates may have contributed to relatively high rates of whooping cough.

The state is also home to too many smokers, though far fewer than in 1990, and ranks a depressing 40th for deaths from cancer, the rankings found.

Maine scored well in other areas, placing first nationally for our low rate of violent crime. Other bright spots were our high graduation rate (education is a strong predictor of life expectancy), low number of deaths from heart disease, and low prevalence of babies with low birthweight.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the sobering news about prescription painkiller and heroin abuse in Maine, drug deaths fell by 16 percent over the last two years.

The report also found Maine needs more dentists, ranking 35th in the country with 51.1 dentists for every 100,000 residents.

So how did the other 49 states perform? Hawaii was the healthiest state, followed by Vermont, then Massachusetts. Mississippi pulled up the rear at dead last as the least healthy state.

 

Maine Allcare Universal Dollar Fundraising Campaign

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.



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 info@maineallcare.org and and put "Idea" in the Subject line. Thank you.