CommonHealth Volume 2, Number 2 ~ Spring 2006 Universal Health Care Education Fund Message from Executive Director Benjamin DayDear Friends and Supporters of Single Payer Health Care, It is now too warm to be the winter of our discontent, but as the seasons turned this year, Massachusetts passed “landmark” new health care Legislation that is leaving many of us wondering if discontent might not be a year-round job. For the first time anywhere in the world, we have passed a law requiring individuals to buy their own health insurance, most without any assistance whatsoever. We have designed a penalty for employers not covering their workers that is so cheap and ineffective, it could hardly be used to subsidize office supplies, much less the families we can now expect to be pushed off of corporate health care rolls. There is more than enough discontent to go around, as our skyrocketing health care costs, which ultimately make universal coverage so difficult, have been left in the hands of HMOs and private insurance companies to swell even further. Unions will continue having to fight off concessions and cost-shifting, and our seniorpopulation will continue to face unaffordable out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare.MASS-CARE and its nonprofit sister organization, the Universal Health Care Education Fund, would like to ask you foryour support this year as we ramp up our organizing efforts at this crucial juncture. MASS-CARE has recentlyreorganized itself in order to build a dues-paying membership base, and we will be working in the immediate future tosupport and politicize the communities most affected by this Bill; act as a clearing house for getting timelyinformation and analyses from progressive health care experts to the rest of the movement; and fight to put realhealth care reform back on the table for everyone. We have our work cut out for us, but we look forward to reengagingwith MASS-CARE’s member organizations, with health care reform activists across the state, and with the communitiesand families who desperately need a voice and a movement for their health.MASS-CARE needs your support for the Eighth Annual Dr. Benjamin Gill Memorial Award Reception, which will be heldthis year on Saturday, May 13, at the Dante Alighieri Cultural Center in Cambridge, a ten-minute wall from theKendall/MIT stop on the MBTA’s Red Line.We will be honoring the outstanding contributions of three exceptional activists and scholars in the field of healthcare reform: Margaret O’Malley of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and Alan Sager and Deborah Socolar ofBoston University’s School of Public Health.We are also planning to have a teaching session about the new bill and whatwe have to do to move the single payer plan forward. This session will beginat 3:00 and end at 4:45. Food and beverage will be available around 5:00, with Table of Contentsthe program slated to begin at 5:30. The program will include talks by Page 1: Executive Director’s Messageveteran strategists and political activists, as well as music from the string Page 2: MASS-CARE Statementensemble of the Consortium for Psychotherapy. A silent auction will be held on Romney Insurance Billduring the program. Membership Drive Page 3: Here’s what people are sayingWe are asking individuals who attend to contribute $35 or whatever is Page 4: Dr. Benjamin Gill Galareasonable for you. Please feel welcome to bring significant or insignificant JwJ Health Care Actionothers, and children or friends. We hope to see you all there!
The New “Universal“ Health Bill “Health care bill will disappoint, hurt low-income families,” say advocates and policy experts Statement by the Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care, April 2006If the new much touted bill is kinder to insurance “This bill is going to exacerbate the crisis incompanies that to the low-income uninsured, we should not Massachusetts health care,” comments Sandy Eaton, RN,be surprised. We were told on April 5th by Scott Helman Chair of MASS-CARE, an association of ninety stateof the Globe that lobbyists for insurance companies, organizations who all believe a single-payer program is thepharmaceutical companies and big hospitals had least expensive and most effective way to solve ourincreased their spending by a third while the bill was being enormous problems in paying for first-class health care.debated. It will move more people into individual health plans, the costliest and most wasteful insurance plans on the planet, without taking any steps to contain the costs that neither the state and its employers nor its residents can afford. Only a plan that consolidates health care finance and streamlines delivery can provide quality sustainable health care for all. Such a plan is the single-payer model adopted successfully in much of the rest of the world, whose costs are less than ours while their citizens are generally healthier.” Announcing an historic turn for MASS-CAREMany uninsured are required by the bill to purchase someform of insurance through the private market or face On April 8th, the MASS-CARE Coordinating Committeestiff penalties on their tax forms. Even a stripped-down, voted to launch an individual-member wing of ourpoor quality plan is likely to cost more than they can statewide movement to create a just healthcare system.afford, and the bill does not raise enough costs to The goal is to establish a grassroots base for change insubsidize even a fraction of these new costs. It raises each legislative district. As each local organizingonly $170 million a year which, according to Alan Sager, is committee reaches ten members, it will have a seat on the“a drop in the bucket of Massachusetts health care where MASS-CARE CC, with voice and vote. We hope to replicatespending this year will be $59 billion.” the excellent ferment generated by such constituents as the Franklin-Hampshire Health Care Coalition andUninsured individuals who are at three times the poverty Berkshire MASS-CARE in every corner of Massachusetts.line, and to whom the bill promises no financial assistance,will be forced to pay over 20 percent of their income to We urge all supporters to take the pledge to campaign forcover health care insurance, according to the best healthcare justice, to fill out the pledge form and send itestimates available. While real incomes for the poor have to our Beacon Street office with $25. Of course no onebeen falling, and may continue to fall, the insurance costs will be kept away for lack of funds, and the extra-they will now have to pay are likely to continue to rise. generous support of so many should continue. The response from groups and individuals to our DecemberFurthermore, “the bill will worsen the complex and costly appeal was so gratifying that we feel confident in hiringadministrative system that wastes funds needed to pay a full-time executive director/organizer.for actual health services,” says Alice Rothschild, MD,Board President of the Alliance to Defend Health Care. The bill is also likely to encourage employers currentlyproviding health care for their work force to pushemployees into the individual mandate, as the feesimposed on employers not covering their workers are farlower than the costs of the poorest quality workforcehealth plans in the state.
Here’s what people are saying “Want affordable, quality, sustainable health care for all?"American health care corporations and insurance Get a plan that consolidates health care finance,companies are right next door to us and have been streamlines delivery, and eliminates waste (includinghankering for years to break up public medicare in advertising, lobbying, and union-busting costs).” - JonCanada and sell us on their profit-focused schemes that Weisman, NALC & JwJ, April 10, 2006leave so many Americans without proper health care." -Debra McPherson, British Columbia Nurses Union, “If we were to take the $9,100/year per person that weFebruary 15, 2006 spend in Massachusetts ... and use it for health care rather than insurance company profits, we would be able“[W]hen it comes to improving coverage, state government to provide truly universal, affordable, continuous,conceived an elephant but gave birth to a mouse.” - Alan equitable and comprehensive care ... .” - Susanne King, MD,Sager, PhD, BU School of Public Health, March 20, 2006 Lenox, Berkshire Eagle, April 11, 2006“The recent healthcare compromise is a completely one- “The interests of insurers, hospitals, and employers havesided victory for the business sector.” - Massachusetts been well-addressed. But there is nothing for those whoAFL-CIO President Robert J. Haynes, April 3, 2006 are, and have been, on their own and self-insured.” - Lorllyn Allan, Somerset, Boston Globe, April 12, 2006"Who would have thought that Massachusetts would take apage out of the Newt Gingrich playbook for health care “The Beacon Hill solution is little more than a giveaway toreform?" - John Sweeney, AFL-CIO, April 5, 2006 the insurance companies. So many new customers!” - Kathleen Bridgewater, Amherst LWV, April 16, 2006“Massachusetts politicians just built the healthcareMcMansion of their dreams. Now, where do they get the “Although the editorial page may tell you to rejoice, wemoney... ?” - Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe, April 6, 2006 would tell you to organize.” - Benjamin Day, MASS-CARE, Boston Globe, April 16, 2006“Could this bill be yet another juggernaut, a Medicare Part‘D’ clone, which ... is merely a thinly masked windfall for “Business can now pay $295 a year per employee insteadHMOs?” - David A Hopkins, Colrain, April 6, 2006 of a couple of thousand, so theyll do what? Drop good plans, pay the cheap fee, and come out way ahead.” - RicThe only redeeming part of the bill is that it says it will Gerace, Falmouth, Boston Globe, April 16, 2006provide absolute coverage for the very poorest citizens.If there isnt enough money to meet those obligations, “Romney said, ‘The old single-payer canard is gone.’ No, itthen what?" - Secretary of State Bill Galvin, April 6, 2006 isnt. Sooner or later, that is exactly what well need if were really serious about universal healthcare.” - Marcia“We are up against the 7.5 million dollars lobbyists Angell, MD, Boston Globe, April 17, 2006received to secure the ‘compromise’ legislation and theinterests of the ‘stakeholders’ AIM, BC/BS, Harvard “The solution that would really put healthcare dollars, andPilgrim, Massachusetts Hospital Association, Eli Lily, providers, to their best use would be a single-payer systemPartners Healthcare System.” - John Horgan, JwJ & - namely, government-funded health coverage for all.” -IBEW, April 7, 2006 Benjamin Brewer, MD, Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2006“Our consistent opposition to such concepts as the “The real news is that the insurance will have more holesindividual mandate to purchase health insurance, proposed than Swiss cheese, wont curtail skyrocketing health carelast summer by Governor Mitt Romney and spelled out last costs.” - James OKeefe, Grace Ross, Jill Stein, Owen R.October in a report from the Urban Institute Broadhurst, Nat Fortune, Somerville Jour.., April 20, 2006commissioned by the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation ofMassachusetts, stands unshaken.” - Sandy Eaton, RN, "If you follow the money trail of wasted dollars in ourMASS-CARE, April 7, 2006 health care system, youll find yourself at the doorstep of the multiple private insurance companies who waste up to“Your reports about Massachusetts health reform 30% of the health premium dollar on non-medical itemslegislation treat politicians overblown claims as gospel.” - including advertising, lobbying, profits and huge CEOD. Himmelstein & S. Woolhandler, NYT, April 9, 2006 salaries." - Patricia Downs Berger, MD, April 21, 2006
MASS-CARE & UHCEF invite you to the: Annual Dr. Benjamin Gill Memorial Awards Dinner Dante Alighieri Cultural Center 41 Hampshire Street, Cambridge ten-minute walk from Kendall/MIT stop on MBTA’s Red Line Saturday, May 13, 2006 Activists’ Training @ 3:00 PM Registration @ 5:00 PM Program @ 5:30 PM Hot & Cold Hors doeuvres - Cash Bar Silent Auction Donation: $35 This year’s honorees: Margaret O’Malley, RN, Massachusetts Nurses Association Alan Sager, PhD & Deborah Socolar, MPH Boston University School of Public Health For more information & reservations, call MASS-CARE/UHCEF @ 617-723-7001 firstname.lastname@example.org - www.masscare.org MASS-CARE proudly participates in such progressive coalitions as JwJ in both Western and Eastern Massachusetts. Thanks to Rand Wilson for this snapshot of some of the attendees at the April 12th JwJ Health Care Action Committee meeting in Boston, working to support the constitutional amendment to make access to affordable health insurance the right of all Massachusetts residents and building support for Congressman Conyers’ Medicare for All bill, HR.676.Jobs with Justice Health Care Action Comm. Universal Health Care Education Fund (UHCEF) c/o MASS-CARELeft to right: Charlie Rasmussen, MNA; Dawn Martinez, 8 Beacon Street, Suite 26BLHG; Peter Knowlton, UE; Ben Day, MASS-CARE; Paul Boston, MA 02108Cannon, IBT; Sandy Eaton, MASS-CARE ; Rand Wilson, P: 617-723-7001IUE-CWA; Ann Eldridge-Malone & Maurice Malone, F: 617-723-7002ADHC; John Horgan, IBEW; Ariana Flores, JwJ; Shawn email@example.comLeblanc, CWA; Timothy Bergeron, CWA; missing: Marc www.masscare.orgBlum, who’s taking the picture.