Source: Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, from Bangor Daily News 1-31-17
New signs Maine AllCare supporters will be carrying at the Portland Monument Square RALLY on February 18th. Please click on image to see each. If you have an idea for a great sign promoting health care for everyone, one that will resonate with Mainers, please email us and share it. We will print it and use it at our subsequent events. Thank you.
People's Forum on the Human Right to Health Care
February 18, 2017 RALLY in Portland
A diverse group of over 300 people gathered at Portland’s Monument Square for a noon rally on Saturday, February 18th in support of health care as a human right. Coalition sponsors included the Southern Maine Workers Center (SMWC) and Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA) and Maine AllCare. Ronald Flannery from SMWC served as master of ceremony. Marilyn McWilliams spoke for Maine AllCare about our vision for publicly funded, guaranteed health care for all.
After the speeches the group marched to Sen. Susan Collins’ office at 1 Canal Plaza to request a meeting with the Senator to discuss the best and most economical way to achieve guaranteed healthcare for every Maine resident. They invited the Senator, along with other public officials, to March 27th meeting. Details are being worked out. We will keep you informed.
Proposal for true "patient freedom” – Healthcare for all Maine
February 16, 2017
We of Maine AllCare believe in Healthcare for Everyone in Maine. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have seemingly surrendered on any national initiative to cover all Americans. One state will probably lead the way by covering its residents. Why not Maine?
America treats healthcare as a commodity like automobiles, where profits, return to investors and sales and marketing initiatives are king. Yet millions who cannot afford this commodity suffer untreated illnesses, even death, or financial ruin due to healthcare costs. Economic impacts such as lost workdays cost employers and employees billions, and uncompensated care is crippling hospitals that are major employers. Universal healthcare coverage is more than an inspiration of morality, it is an economic necessity.
“The status quo is unsustainable, for patients, for workers and for employers" said Henk Goorhuis, MD, Board Chair of Maine AllCare at a recent national meeting of the activist organization ‘Healthcare Now.’” “Further, the ideas pushed by the Republican majority in Congress, which are based on even more privatization and patient cost-sharing, would only exacerbate our citizens’ healthcare access problems.” Available data show that this could mean an additional tens of thousands of unnecessary, preventable deaths, according to a January 23rd Washington Post article by NYU physicians David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler.
Medicare provides healthcare coverage for older Americans, and created funding outside of the "commodity" system. Publicly funded, operating with low administrative costs and delivering private care, Medicare covers millions of satisfied citizens. With an "Expanded and Improved Medicare for Everyone," as thoughtfully and carefully detailed in a bill re-introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and cosponsored by 57 others including Rep. Chellie Pingree, proposing a national universal healthcare system, everyone could win. Despite strong public support in many surveys, stronger forces in Washington successfully suppress any discussion of “Medicare for All.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) tweaked the commodity system by making federal subsidies for insurance available. Over 20 million more Americans, including about 75,000 Mainers, have coverage, many for the first time ever. ACA required states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, but the Supreme Court gave states the option to decline, and Maine declined. Although a success for millions, the ACA, and Maine’s failure to fully implement it, leaves in excess of 100,000 Mainers – 8-9% of us (2015 Census data shows 111,000) – with NO coverage. 70,000 would be covered had we expanded Mainecare under the law. And many who signed up will drop out because of backbreaking deductibles and prohibitive premium hikes that only satisfy for-profit insurance companies.
What about a replacement? All Republican proposals, such as "vouchers" and "block grants" merely tweak the current, market-based system. This includes Senator Collins’s “Patient Freedom Act of 2017” that favors people who can afford to participate. The Act’s proposed subsidies for Health Savings Accounts require that people continue to purchase market-based insurance plans. Hard working Mainers living paycheck to paycheck, as well as those without any paychecks, will still be left behind. In federal budget battles, appropriations for vouchers and block grants and subsidies for “Freedom Act” Health Savings Accounts will be forever unreliable.
However, with a section 1332 “waiver” allowed by the ACA, federal healthcare money designated for Maine could be used to chart Maine’s own course to universal coverage. With comprehensive health care for all, which will include all Mainers – even the healthy – the per capita cost is lowered at the same time the commodity problem is eliminated. Everyone will be in. No one will be out. Access will be simple. Coverage will be comprehensive. Everyone will pay with equitable financing. No one sector will be overburdened. Healthcare providers will return to a professional mission. They will care for patients without the shackles of running a complicated billing operation.
If we want the best, most affordable and efficient healthcare, Medicare is the best model. Here in Maine, we are ready to move ahead. Medicare's original rollout took less than a year to enroll everyone. They used postcards! President Harry Truman was the first enrollee! Surely we could top that.
In this legislative session Maine Rep. Heidi Brooks and Sen. Geoff Gratwick are proposing legislative action that promotes universal healthcare. If the Legislature and the Governor will not care for their constituents, it will be up to us, as private citizens. Maine AllCare will explore the Citizen Initiative process. It's time to fulfill the Maine State motto and lead this nation in establishing the people-centered, business friendly, rational, moral, affordable, equitable healthcare system we all deserve.
Signed: William Clark MD, Woolwich, Moira O’Neill PhD, Surry and Joe Lendvai, Brooklin ME. The writers are members of Maine AllCare, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization dedicated to comprehensive, affordable health care for everyone in Maine.
Editor’s note: This op-ed, submitted to a number of major Maine newspapers, was a response to the Cassidy-Collins bill S.191, an attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Medicare for all
By John Sytsma
Sun Journal, January 12, 2017
Now that this nation is going to be faced with a full-blown attempt to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (with no idea of what will replace it), this is a perfect time for people to raise their voices in favor of the only health care finance system that will work, long term, for the United States — Medicare for all.
Every industrialized country in the world, and some that are not industrialized, have systems that provide universal health care at half the price that people in the United States are paying.
The U.S. wastes billions of dollars and still leaves people without coverage, people who die as a result, and people who suffer medical bankruptcy. As long as the profit motive underlies health care financing, costs will rise, with 20 to 30 percent (called "overhead") going into the pockets of insurers, drug companies and equipment manufacturers. With Medicare, overhead is 3 percent, and it can set reasonable limits on fees, drug costs and the price of equipment.
Not only does the nation save money, but coverage will be universal.
John Sytsma, Farmington
Our new bumper stickers are here and ready to be mailed to you!
Please show your support for universal health care by making an online contribution of $4 or more and we’ll mail to you one of these bright, colorful 10x3 inch bumper stickers. HEALTH CARE FOR EVERYONE IN MAINE is a clear message to your community. It affirms that you support a transition to a publicly funded system of comprehensive care accessible to every person in our state – one that will improve both individual health and business productivity, and will costs less overall than what we are paying today.
We welcome contributions in any amount – they are tax deductible – but our main goal is to increase visible support in each community throughout our state.
'Maine' reasons for universal health care
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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 email@example.com and and put "Idea" in the Subject line. Thank you.