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CommonHealth Newsletter - Fall 2010


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Fall 2010 issue of "CommonHealth," the biannual newsletter of the Universal Health Care Education Fund (UHCEF) and Mass-Care.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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CommonHealth Newsletter - Fall 2010

  1. 1. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 ~ FALL 2010 CommonHealth 2010 Ballot Question for Single Payer Passed in all 14 Districts!In all 14 districts that placed single payer on the ballot,voters supported it with a resounding yes, averaging 63%yes across the districts! Five of the districts backing singlepayer reform voted for Scott Brown in last year’s specialSenate election, showing that the goal of improved andexpanded Medicare-for-all is supported by a diverse rangeof communities across the state. Many of the 14 districtshad very active outreach efforts to the voters with op-eds,videos to local Access TV stations, fliers, signs andspreading the word through local organizations. The wholeprocess broadened our grassroots efforts and brought innew activists for Mass-Care. Thanks to all the volunteerswho worked on passing the ballot question! “Singing for Single Payer” a Great SuccessIn 2008 voters in 10 out of 10 districts also supported a Glorious music filled the sanctuary of Saint Paul’s Episcopalsimilar ballot question, demonstrating continued voter Church, Brookline, at the Mass-Care Benefit Concert onsupport for single payer through 2010, even in a year of November 12. Beginning with the exuberant Joyful Voices ofpolitical change and drawn-out economic suffering. The Inspiration, a gospel chorus, and ending with the foot-stompingvoters support healthcare as a right for all residents. They tunes of jazz/blues group Outrageous Fortune, the audiencevoted for an equitable system that doesn’t discriminate by enjoyed a full evening of entertainment. Other featuredage, state of health, or employment status, and they voted musicians were up-coming singer/songwriter Ryan Schmidt, theto have publicly supported healthcare through a fair tax a capella group Treble on Huntington from Northeasternsystem that provides cost effective, comprehensive medical University and the comic songs of Damaged Care with Dr. Barrycare for all residents. Levy.The new question for Massachusetts is whether the Kitty Dukakis served as a gracious mistress of ceremonies, andlegislators get the message of the people. The reason the Governor Mike Dukakis’ keynote remarks highlighted the longballot question was put forward was to demonstrate to the history of failed attempts to attain universal health insurancestate representatives that the voters in their districts for all in the United States, in contrast to the situation in mostwant them to support the Massachusetts single payer other industrialized countries. His remarks were well receivedHealth Care Trust bill. The updated Health Care Trust bill by an audience of over 120 people. Delicious refreshmentswill be refiled in January 2011. That is the time the including a variety of home-baked delights, fruit and cranberry/residents of the Commonwealth will have a second chance to pineapple punch added to the friendly intermingling ofvoice their support for Single Payer Medicare-for-all. Mass- performers and the audience during intermission. TheCare will have a Lobby Day in mid January to strengthen our Fundraising Committee thanks all who brought refreshmentsmessage and organize groups to speak with their legislators and helped serve them.about co-sponsoring the Health Care Trust bill. We havethe power to make the legislators hear our message if we Organizing all of this was Pat Berger, with help from memberswork at it, and don’t give up! - Pat Berger, MD of the committee, including Vic Bloomberg, Joseph Lilleyman, Ben Day, John Blanchard, Bea Mikulecky and interns Asha Cesar Universal Health Care Education Fund c/o Mass-Care and Nivedita Poola. The committee is happy to report that the 33 Harrison Avenue, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02111 P: 617-723-7001, F: 617-723-7002 concert brought in substantial funding for Mass-Care. - Bea Mikulecky
  2. 2. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 ~ FALL 2010 So what happened on November 2nd? “Singing for Single Payer” ShotsThe prophets of doom and gloom have certainly had afield day both before and after that date. Afterparticipating in the recent strategy meetings of theLeadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare andHealthcare-Now!, and hearing report-backs from therecent meetings of Physicians for a National HealthProgram and the Labor Caucus for Single Payer, I see ourpath ahead as complex and flexible. We need a two-pronged strategy, one that is defensive and at the sametime moving forward.While we lost some great individuals, for the most partuseless Blue-Dog Democrats were replaced by uselessRepublicans. The resultant is a DP caucus in the Housethat is more progressive than ever. Eighty one of theeighty-eight co-sponsors of HR.676, the Medicare for Allbill, ran for another term in Congress. One ran forgovernor of Hawai’i. Seventy nine of the eighty one werere-elected by large margins. The candidate for governoralso won. Vermont, California and Hawai’i now havegovernors who support single payer health care.At the strategy meetings in Philadelphia in mid-November, many went out of their way to thankMassachusetts for the fourteen local ballot campaignswhich prove that single payer is still the people’s choice. Ihad to field several questions on the specifics of theMassachusetts plan, which provided the architecture ofthe current federal law. Mass-Care vice-chair Frank Olbrisand student intern Asha Cesar came to Philadelphia afterthe Brookline concert. Together we covered workshops onstate strategies, the use of technology and challengingcorporate power,Speaking of which, what’s up with the commercial healthinsurance industry? Having secured what they wantedfrom Democrats in the form of the individual mandate tobuy their shoddy products and the state-based insuranceexchanges to pimp them, they’re switching their money toRepublicans in order to strip the federal bill of anyregulatory relief the people may now have. They hope toparlay the demand to repeal the federal bill intodissecting out those parts of it that hinder their greed..Our defensive strategy starts with combatting the federaldeficit commission’s proposals to attack Social Security,Medicare and Medicaid. On September 30th, the Capitolswitchboard was swamped by callers demanding Handsoff Social Security, Hands off Medicare. Several Southerngovernors have indicated that they will try to pull theirstates out of the Medicaid program, which they deemunaffordable.Word is that John Conyers’ HR.676 and Bernie Sanders’ S.703 will be refiled in the coming session. But mostobservers feel the pendulum has swung back to thestates. What a tremendous boost it will be when the firststate passes and enacts single payer! Who will be first,Vermont, California, or Hawai’i? My money’s on Vermont.And we’re close enough to help. - Sandy Eaton, RN
  3. 3. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 ~ FALL 2010 Massachusetts Physicians Chose Single Payer The Updated Healthcare Trust BillFor the first time ever, the Massachusetts Medical Society Mass-Care is delighted that Senator Jamie Eldridge willhas asked doctors what they think about health reform in again be the lead sponsor for our updated Massachusettsits annual "Physician Workforce Survey" of 1,000 Health Care Trust bill that will be filed in January 2011.practicing physicians in the state. Doctors picked single This year Mass-Care has added a funding section to thepayer health reform over a public option, over high- bill based on the work of Gerald Friedman, an economistdeductible plans and over the current Massachusetts at reform law - in short, over every other optionpresented. In the updated bill, funding for the Health Care Trust will come from three sources. First, monies from the federalStrikingly, of all the options presented, the current and state programs like Medicare Part A, Medicaid andMassachusetts health reform law of 2006, which serves as CHIP would continue to fund the Health Care Trust.the model for the Obama administration’s new law, Second, a 10% levy on payrolls above $30,000 (7.5% onreceived the least support! (It should be noted that these employers, 2.5% on employees) and a 10% levy on thequestions were prepared and responded to prior to the incomes of the self-employed will replace the premiums,passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act deductibles and co-pays that individuals and employerswhich was signed into law March 23, 2010 by President have to pay now. The proposed payroll taxes will result inObama). savings for the vast majority of employers and employees. It will also relieve businesses from having to provideThe following question was asked of each of the health insurance for their employees, will eliminate therespondents: uncertainty of spiraling insurance premiums and provide a level field for business since all businesses will pay theWhich of the following options should be included in US same taxes. The third funding source is a 12.5 % levy onhealth care reform? (Please read each of the following unearned income above $10,000, which will be paidoptions carefully and check only one.) primarily by people in the highest income brackets and will make the entire funding of the Health Care Trust more1. Single-payer national health care system offering progressive. universal health care to all US residents - 34%2. Both public and private plans with a public buy-in Friedman has calculated that with a single-payer system option (allow businesses and individuals to enroll in a there will be a 15.75% total savings in health care public Medicare-like health insurance plan that would expenditures. His analysis of the cost and funding of the compete with private plans) - 32% Massachusetts Health Care Trust will be very useful in3. Keep the existing mix of public and private plans, but explaining the rationale behind our proposal to legislators allow insurers to sell plans with limited benefits and and to the public. We will need everyone from across the high deductibles to keep premiums low. State state to become active in lobbying our Representatives subsidies would help low-income individuals buy and Senators to sign on as co-sponsors of the Health Care insurance. Individuals could choose to buy a less Trust bill. Please contact the office at if expensive catastrophic plan, more expensive you are willing to work in local groups to contact your comprehensive coverage, or no insurance at all. - 17% legislators. Mass-Care will be setting up meetings with4. Model health care reform on the Massachusetts health the legislators and a Lobby Day in January. law of 2006, offering a national insurance exchange, government subsidies to low-income people to You are needed!!! Join the campaign!!! - Judy Deutsch purchase health insurance, a mandate requiring residents who are not eligible for subsidized health plans to buy insurance or be fined, and fine employers who do not offer adequate health care plans to their employees. - 14%5. Other (please specify). - 3%Physicians are moving toward single payer Medicare-For-All and so are the people of Massachusetts as shown bythe single payer ballot question that passed in all 14districts that it was in! We can keep the movementgrowing!! - Pat Berger, MD
  4. 4. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 ~ FALL 2010 Benefits of an Internship with Mass-Care I am a Senior at Northeastern preparing to hopefully matriculate into a Masters of Public Health program right after graduation in May 2011. As a student at Northeastern University, I understand the importance of real-world experience coupled with academic coursework in preparation for life post-undergraduate. I started working at Mass-Care in September of this year. I had the opportunity to collaborate with organizations such as Jobs for Justice and CHEERS/Critical Mass. It was refreshing to work in an environment where everyone comes from a different background and brings something unique to the table. Everyone that I met demonstrated political drive, intellect and true compassion for community involvement and service. My superiors and peers all pushed me and gave me freedom to develop my leadership skills. I recently represented Mass-Care at the annual Healthcare-NOW strategic conference in Philadelphia. The main focus was to create strategies to mobilize community organizers and leaders to move state legislatures to pass single-payer. With our recent success in passing a single payer ballot question in 14 districts, Massachusetts was held in high regard among those who attended the conference. While I was intimidated initially with the amount of responsibility I was given, I embraced it and was deeply Mass-Care Needs Your Generosity humbled by the experience.Single payer Medicare-for-All is the people’s choice! I understand the insurance and healthcare system more afterNow we need to make our legislators hear our working with Mass-Care. I have developed research andvoices! We have momentum but we need to be heardin the media, the talk shows, in our local management skills and created a network outside of school. I hopeorganizations, and especially in the halls of the to utilize the skills I developed at Mass-Care to encourage otherState House. To accomplish our goals Mass-Care students to learn about single-payer and start taking an interestneeds your financial support. The end of year giving in healthcare politics and legislation. - Asha Cesaris vitally important to expand Mass-Care’s outreachand influence. We need to convince at least 50 morelegislators to support our updated Health CareTrust bill, we need to work with small businesses,we need to reach the communities that have beenthe victims of disparities in health care accessibilityand affordability. Please be as generous as possibleso Massachusetts can achieve health care as a rightfor everyone! CommonHealth, Volume 4, Number 2: Director: Benjamin Day Editor: Sandy Eaton Photography: Judy Deutsch, Sandy Eaton, Katie Murphy Production: Erin Servaes Printing compliments of the Massachusetts Nurses Association