CommonHealth Newsletter - Fall 2008


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Fall 2008 issue of "CommonHealth," the biannual newsletter of the Universal Health Care Education Fund (UHCEF) and Mass-Care.

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CommonHealth Newsletter - Fall 2008

  1. 1. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 ~ FALL 2008 CommonHealth Mass-Care’s 2008 Accomplishments Volunteer for Mass-Care!• Debunking the myth that Chapter 58, our current health reform law, should Mass-Care not only has opportunities for be a model for the nation. Mass-Care has recently co-authored with volunteers, we need you! Massachusetts Jobs with Justice an eight-page pamphlet explaining the • Join your local district team to lobby your law, its successes and failures, and distributed it widely in the state and Senator and Representative. beyond.• Acting as the fiscal agent for Cape Care, which has been coordinating a • Host a fundraising house party for Mass- single payer health plan for Cape Cod and the Islands. (see article on Cape Care or join one. Care) • We need a website developer for a new• Working on cost-control legislation. Mass-Care was a key supporter of website comparing insurance companies on uniform billing which was included in the cost control bill passed into law how much money they waste on overhead, this past summer. Mass-Care produced a report for the Office of Health executive salaries, marketing, etc. and Human Services on how bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals by the state • We need grant writers to help us obtain through a single non-profit purchasing pool would lower its drug costs. funding. Mass-Care is working with the administration to implement the • We need speakers to speak at events all recommendations of the report. over the state.• Expanding our grassroots outreach. Mass-Care activists pushed the • We need people who will write letters to Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) to include single payer reform as the editor and op-eds. one of the options it lists for achieving universal health care. Mass-Care • We need activists to lead new outreach has given 22 talks at Rotary clubs all over the state to reach out to the programs in MA, including: Outreach to business community. All the major Unions in MA have joined the coalition to religious organizations, business for single work for single payer. This movement is truly significant in both the number payer, and municipalities for single payer. and importance of the unions making single payer a priority for the next Please call Mass-Care 617-723-7001 or year. Mass-Care and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) are email if you would like working together to build chapters of doctors, residents and medical to volunteer! students in the state. Mailings from PNHP and Mass-Care have generated about 40 speaking events at hospitals and medical schools on single payer Lobby Day January 13th reform. Mass-Care now has over 100 member organizations. Lobby Day for our refiled Health Care Trust• Redesigning the Mass-Care website to include downloadable handouts about bill will be a chance for all our supporters to single payer, in-depth fact sheets on Chapter 58, health care disparities, come to the State House for a briefing about health care costs and cost control legislation. The goal is to make our Single Payer bill and to visit our the leading online resource for universal single payer legislators asking them to sign on to our advocates. bill. The briefing will include several speakers• Educational efforts through the media. Mass-Care’s activists as well as to highlight the specifics of the bill and the members of our Advisory Board have produced dozens of op-ed articles, reasons why it will benefit all Massachusetts letters to the editor, peer-reviewed journal submissions and radio residents and cost less.  There will also be a interviews on single payer healthcare reform. We have become a leading short training to offer some tips on how to resource for media seeking a critical perspective from a progressive approach your legislators and there will be standpoint on healthcare reform. some great packets of information for your Senators and Reps.  It is vitally important• Sponsoring a ballot question supporting single payer healthcare reform that that Single Payer supporters turn out in force was overwhelmingly approved by the voters on November 4th. Ten districts to make it clear that incremental reform across the state had an average of 73% approval. This is a monumental doesn’t work and Single Payer is the way to endorsement by the general public of a single payer health care system for go. Massachusetts. ! PAGE 1
  2. 2. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 ~ FALL 2008 Could this be the legislative session?As the state looks at continuing cutbacks and Chapter 58 continues to cost more, could this be the session for single-payer? Wehave great news from the huge margins of success in the ten districts of our single payer advisory ballot question. Significantoutreach campaigns to small business circles are reaping incredibly strong support. The national mayors’ conference has comeout for single-payer as has our own state AFL-CIO leadership – ripe we hope to turn into support for our statewide bill.In this context, we look forward to re-filing our single-payer Health Care Trust bill by January 14, and your LegislativeCommittee has been working assiduously since the summer to further improve our very good current bill, consider our strategyfor building more support and address the more concrete questions and expectations that will come as we get closer to makingsingle-payer a reality in our state.Please contact us to get involved by being your district’s liaison with your legislators, by joining our small business or unionoutreach teams, or helping with our municipal research and outreach efforts!The principal changes being made to our Health Care Trust bill are:1. the addition of a table of contents so as to enable readers to more easily find the subjects for which they are looking;2. a listing of specific funding sources that include a tax on gross payrolls, a tax on employee compensation, a self-employment payroll tax, and a tax on dividends;3. a separate section on financing that will make it very clear that the Health Care Trust will utilize global budgeting.We are grateful to Senator Tolman and Representative Hynes who previously served as lead sponsors of our bill; however, weappreciate that Senator Tolmans new position as Democratic whip and Representative Hynes’ retirement necessitate their nolonger holding these positions. We are very pleased that Senator Jehlen has agreed to be the new lead Senate sponsor and weare negotiating with a few representatives about who will be the new lead House sponsor.During the current legislative session, Mass-Care decided to work also on measures that protected healthcare quality but cutcosts. Your legislative committee, therefore, worked for three cost containment measures: uniform billing; a care-ratio[stipulating how much of each health care premium-dollar should go for actual health care]; and negotiation for, and bulk-purchasing of, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. If passed and implemented, these would be foundational components ofthe Health Care Trust when it is enacted. We are very pleased that uniform billing was included in Senator Murrays cost-containment bill that passed last Summer, and shall work during the next session to get the other cost-containment measurespassed and implemented.This is the year to ramp up now and get as many serious commitments among legislators as possible as co-sponsors of our bills.Together with our Executive Director Ben Day and Legislative Consultant Grace Ross, we shall organize a lobby day on January13th to get more legislative sponsors. Please look for a fuller announcement at the end of this year and please plan to attend – ashow of force at the beginning of the new legislative session will be noted.We volunteer committee members (Pat Berger, Vic Bloomberg, chair Judy Deutsch, Sandy Eaton, Bea Mikulecky, Leo Stolbachand Jackie Wolf) are grateful for the help that Grace and Ben have given us all along the way, and for the hard work that theydo towards the goal of getting the Massachusetts Health Care Trust bill enacted and implemented. CommonHealth, Volume 3, Number 1: Universal Health Care Education Fund c/o Mass-Care Director: Benjamin Day Copy: Pat Berger Jim Herbert 33 Harrison Avenue, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02111 Editor: Sandy Eaton Judy Deutsch Brian O’Malley P: 617-723-7001, F: 617-723-7002 Production: Erin Servaes Sandy Eaton Grace Ross Printing compliments of the Massachusetts Nurses Association Jackie Wolf ! PAGE 2
  3. 3. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 ~ FALL 2008 Cape Care Ramps UpThe Cape Care Coalition has moved toward the introduction, early inJanuary, of enabling legislation for our proposed Cape Care CommunityHealth Trust. “Community-owned health care for Cape Cod,” we call it. Thebill will mirror the model system we envision, developed in extensive detailin our Draft Model Plan, available at Thedevelopment of the Plan has been the product of years of regular meetingsand discussions with our neighbors around its many, many elements.Cape Care was born of a single-payer, social justice liaison. As we workedwith it, the power of the single-payer model to organize specifically aroundthe delivery of high quality effective healthcare became more evident.And even more so, in the community model, the power of lifestyle issuessuch as access to healthful, local food, and to exercise and socialopportunities, and the effective and cost-saving role of public healthapproaches to disease prevention and control, became more and moreclearly, central elements. So many of the truly cost-controlling and health-promoting aspects are only feasible within a community or universal model.(We distinguish these, as Cape Care will, of necessity, a choice, not amandate, and therefore not truly universal.) In order to provide the best See our new brochure on Chapter 58 of theavailable plan, with comprehensive benefits, we are considering enrollment Acts of 2006 on our web site. You can alsopremiums for enrollees "subsidized" by a County-based property health download it and print it out. Or contact thetax, and a small payroll tax.) Mass-Care office for copies. Developed and produced in conjunction with MassachusettsOur discussions with political representatives have been very supportive, Jobs with Justice, ‘Massachusetts Healthand we are currently meeting with leadership as we finish work on the Cape Reform: Solution or Stopgap?’ provides answers to many of our questions, explainsCare bill. Concerning the Chapter 58 program, we have pointed out the the good and bad points of this law, andgreat difficulties that Commonwealth Connector folks have finding anyone points to the single-payer solution to theto accept their cards, and get care, on the Cape - and indicated our intent ongoing crisis in access, affordability andto be the default Connector plan here. Full coverage, full access for all. quality of our current healthcare system. It also tells readers where to go to learn moreWe will be seeking the support of legislators statewide for this strongly and to get involved.supported Community Health Plan demonstration project. Please let themknow.Brian O’Malley, MD ! PAGE 3
  4. 4. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 3, NUMBER 1 ~ FALL 2008 Overwhelming Victory for Single Payer Ballot Question How to help Mass-Care!On November 4th, the local ballot initiative supporting single payer and Now is the time that Single Payer reform has aopposing individual mandates passed by landslide margins in all ten chance to succeed in Massachusetts. It is becominglegislative districts where it appeared. The measure passed with margins clear to economists, legislators, businesses, and theranging from 65% in the Fifth Middlesex to 83% in the Third Hampshire. general public that the private health insuranceNearly 73 percent of 180,000 voters saud yes to the following: "Shall system with its rising health care costs is notthe representative from this district be instructed (1) to support sustainable. MA has elected a more progressivelegislation that establishes health care as a human right regardless of legislature, and the leadership may change. Now isage, state of health or employment status, by creating a single payer the time for Mass-Care and its thousands ofhealth insurance system that is comprehensive, cost effective, and volunteers to put pressure on the legislature to passpublicly provided to all residents of Massachusetts, and (2) to oppose a Single Payer healthcare system and contribute theany laws penalizing the uninsured for failing to obtain health insurance.” financial support necessary to succeed! We can do this!Fundraising results have slumped in the past National Focus year due to the economic downturn. We need to raiseAll eyes are now focused on Washington, with major health reform $25,000 before December 31 to be able to continuelegislation felt to be more likely to pass now than in many years. Will with our ambitious plans and pay our terrificsomething akin to the Massachusetts hybrid model, with or without Executive Director Ben Day. Please be as generous asindividual mandates, carry the day, or will single payer in the form of possible! We are fortunate to have matching fundsstrengthened and improved Medicare for All come into its own? for the first $6000 we raise through this newsletter. In addition we are planning fundraisingMass-Care’s Ben Day went to the Leadership Conference on Guaranteed House Parties in many areas of the state and hopeHealth Care November 10 & 11 at the AFL-CIO’s Washington head- you can attend them or host one and bring in newquarters. This national coalition-in-formation strives to unite all single people to broaden our outreach. Thank you for all youpayer groups around a winning strategy for Representative John do. Health care is a right and supporting Mass-CareConyer’s bill HR.676. The California Nurses Association, Physicians for a and Single Payer reform is the right thing to do!National Health Program, Healthcare-NOW and Progressive Democratsof America convened this meeting and will take the lead in getting this How about a raffle?organization off the ground. Ben reports that “virtually everyone in the I propose that we run a huge donation drawing,room - all 80 to 100 single payer activists - knew about our successful selling tickets at $1.00 each or a book of six forballot initiatives, and I think our work on this, on getting so many of our $5.00. $50,000 in sales nets us $30,000 profit.Congressional delegation on HR.676 (which Massachusetts Jobs with Total expenses should be $20,000 or less. TheJustice can take most of the credit for!) and the work weve done on potential is huge! We need five special volunteers:Chapter 58 has earned us a lot of respect in the national single payer a computer whiz for keeping track of revenue andmovement.” expenses, a treasurer (a separate bank account should be set up for this fund raiser), a clericalParallel to this, Labor for Single Payer will be launched at a conference organizer, someone with good political connectionsin Saint Louis on January 10 & 11. All labor organizations that support and a lawyer we could consult.the passage of HR.676 are invited to attend and participate in launchinga dynamic campaign for the only workable solution to today’s healthcare Once we hear back from interested volunteers,crisis, working within and through the labor movement. we then form the Fundraiser Team to execute Massachusetts AFL-CIO Endorses HR.676 the plan. If we mail out five books to eachDelegates to the Massachusetts AFL-CIOs annual COPE convention in supporter, say, we could then expect to receiveAndover voted on September 18, 2008 to endorse HR.676. John Horgan, $25.00 back from each person (either from theirIBEW Local 2222 steward at Verizon, had made a presentation on HR. own pocket, or from the sale of their five books).676 to the state COPE Committee, which voted to endorse HR.676. The If 2000 of the 2500 supporters send us $25.00,COPE Committee’s endorsement was approved by the State Federation’s we would receive $50,000. Interested? PleaseExecutive Board and passed unanimously by the convention upon a motion join in. Call Jim Herbert at 781-729-1104 orby Robert Haynes, State Federation President. Horgan had earlier been Thanks! Jimresponsible for several endorsements of HR.676 by a number ofMassachusetts Central Labor Councils. ! PAGE 4