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Maine AllCare Calls for Swift Action to Enact Universal Health Care Legislation

June 28, 2012

Today, Maine and the rest of the nation received the long-awaited Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although the Supreme Court has upheld the ACA, Maine AllCare urges President Obama and the Congress to move swiftly to improve the health care law, and to implement a single-payer national health insurance plan - an improved Medicare for all.

“Although the ACA contains several salutary measures, the law will not remedy the U.S. health crisis,” said Dr. Julie Pease, physician and chair of Maine AllCare, a non-profit statewide organization that promotes universal health care for the people of Maine. “The ACA will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves at least 26 million uninsured. It will not make health care affordable even to Americans with insurance. High deductibles, co-pays, gaps in coverage, and denials of care will continue to leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness.”

Further, the ACA will not control costs. Why is this so? The ACA perpetuates a dominant role for the private insurance industry. That industry siphons off hundreds of billions of health care dollars annually for overhead, profit and the paperwork it demands from doctors and hospitals; it denies care to increase insurers’ bottom line; and it obstructs any serious effort to control costs.

In contrast, a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all system would achieve all three goals – truly universal, comprehensive coverage; health security for Maine patients and their families; and cost control. It would do so by replacing private insurers with a single, nonprofit agency like Medicare that pays all medical bills, streamlines administration, and reins in costs for medications and other supplies through its bargaining clout. The administrative cost savings alone would be $400 billion annually, enough to provide quality care to all with no increase in overall U.S. health spending.

A single-payer system is within practical reach. The most rapid way to achieve universal coverage would be to improve upon the existing Medicare program and to expand it to cover people of all ages. There is legislation before Congress, notably H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” which would do precisely that.
National polls show such an approach is supported by about two-thirds of the public and a solid majority of physicians.

“In the meantime, there is much that can be done at a state level, following the example of Vermont. A non-profit, universal health care program that includes everybody has already been found to be feasible for Maine,” said Dr. Pease. “We should move as quickly as possible toward such a system during the next few years, as our current system continues to unravel. Maine AllCare pledges to step up its work for the only equitable, financially responsible and humane cure for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for all.”