Local Greens support single-payer health care

Paul Garbarino and Paul Garbarino

A privately-delivered, publicly-financed universal health care is the solution supported by the Wood County Green Party for providing care to approximately 30 million Americans who are currently without health insurance.

Joe DeMare, co-chair of the local Green Party, along with other party leaders outlined their rationale behind the importance of reforming the current U.S. healthcare system at the “Why We Need Socialized Medicine” event Sunday night at Grounds for Thought.

“About 70 percent of Americans want single-payer, universal health care because they understand that our current system is broken,” DeMare said.

Single-payer national health insurance is a system where one public agency would organize health care financing for all US residents, but the care would be delivered by the private sector of hospitals and clinics. Coverage of all medical services including dental, mental health and reproductive care would be provided, and premiums would be eliminated altogether.

The current system under the Affordable Care Act is different because it doesn’t go as far as single-payer does in coverage expansion. Approximately 20 million more Americans were covered through ACA, but that required Americans to purchase private insurance policies partially subsidized by the government and by expanding Medicaid.

Members of both the Democratic and Green parties believe that a single-payer system is necessary to insure all Americans while remaining cost efficient, because a private market system gives insurance companies more of an incentive to attain profits than to provide care. At least a quarter of all health care finances goes to administrative costs and not health care.

“25 to 31 percent of our health care dollars aren’t going to health care, they’re going to health insurance companies, and they make their profits by denying us health care,” DeMare said. “The more health care they give us, the less profit they make.”

The combined salaries of the CEO’s of the top 10 healthcare providers adds up to over 100 million dollars, with the CEO of Centene Corporation, Michael F. Neidorff bringing in the highest compensation of $21,968,983 in 2016.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the average American spent $9,596 on healthcare in 2012, and at least 30,000 Americans die annually because they can’t afford insurance. Democrats and Greens argue that all these costs would be eliminated under a single-payer system and almost limitless benefits would stem from it

They say the program would be funded by the savings accrued from replacing the old program with a nonprofit public paying system and with modest new taxes based on ability to pay. Americans would be able to allocate their money to other things, stimulating economic growth and simply keeping more people working instead of laying sick in a hospital bed.

In January, Michigan Rep. John Conyers reintroduced H.R. 676, The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which would establish the single-payer system. Despite the popularity of the system, however, the Wood County Green Party leaders outlined one key barrier preventing its passage: lobbying.

According to Represent.US, the insurance industry spent $147 million lobbying senators and house representatives in 2016 to pass the American Health Care Act that failed in July, which would have given more than $200 billion in tax cuts to insurance companies and create a system opposite of single-payer.

Green Party city council candidate Beverly Elwazani says that, while contacting state representatives is important, the most important thing Americans can do to ensure fair representation is to spread their accurate information and their personal stories.

“Whenever you get ahold of it, pass it along to your friends,” Elwazani said. “Verify it, make sure it is correct, and get it out there. A lot of people are thinking that the people they elected into office are acting in their best interest when that is far from the truth.”