CommonHealth Newsletter - Spring 2010


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

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CommonHealth Newsletter - Spring 2010

  1. 1. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 ~ SPRING 2010 CommonHealth National Health Reform: What it means for MassachusettsThe Health Reform Law passed this March will immediatelygive Massachusetts residents some help, but many changeswill be postponed for several years.Starting 2010:• Children may remain on their parents’ health policies until age 26 (up from 23)• Medicare recipients will receive a $250 rebate to help in closing the “doughnut hole” for medication costs• Health insurance companies will be banned from excluding children from coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and adults with pre-existing conditions will be eligible for coverage through temporary high risk pools• Health insurance companies will be prohibited from setting annual and lifetime limits on coverage.• All new health plans will have to offer coverage for preventive services with no co-pays (established health plans have until 2018 to comply)• Early retirees (55 to 64) will receive some assistance in health care premiums from a temporary reinsurance fund• Small businesses (less than 50 employees) are eligible for a tax credit equal to 35% of their health insurance Keeping Our Issues in the Spotlight premiums (increases to 50% by 2014) As so much of recent history has shown us, the people we electProblems Remain: to represent us on Beacon Hill and on Capitol Hill make a huge difference in how far single payer moves forward. KeepingMost people who have health insurance through their single payer, or Improved Medicare for All, in the public eyeemployment will not see much change. Massachusetts serves many goals. It notifies the candidate that the moral,already mandates that everyone must buy insurance or pay social and fiscal issue of a publicly-funded, privately-delivereda stiff fine. The premiums for health insurance will continue health plan is a goal that needs to be on the top of their lists atto go up, since the bill contains no significant cost control all times. Candidates are made aware that their constituentsmeasures. Many middle-income people will find the only are supporters of single payer and will work for thosepolicies they can afford may not cover their medical candidates willing to fight for it. As we speak up in townexpenses, leaving them vulnerable to bankruptcies or meetings, city council chambers and local State House candidateforeclosures. There will still be over 300,000 uninsured in meetings, other participants become educated on single payer.Massachusetts. The long term financial stability of both At a recent meeting with Congressman Ed Markey (D-07), hethe national and the Massachusetts health reform laws is told several of us that a close family member is a public healthquestionable, since neither contain cost control mechanisms physician and has been discussing this with him for over twentyto eliminate huge administrative waste, fragmentation of years! - Katie Murphy, Framinghamcare and unreasonable profits taken by the insurance andpharmaceutical industries. The only system that can achieve Universal Health Care Education Fund c/o Mass-Caretrue universal comprehensive coverage and control costs is 33 Harrison Avenue, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02111a single-payer system. - Pat Berger, Mass-Care Co-Chair P: 617-723-7001, F: 617-723-7002
  2. 2. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 ~ SPRING 2010 Health Justice Campaign Opens with Enthusiastic Support At present there are thirty-nine representatives and senators that have signed on as co-sponsors ofOn January 25th the Massachusetts our bill, and with concerted effort weCampaign for Health Justice was can more than double that numberlaunched as over 100 energized in the next session.participants from Mass-Care affili-ates, Jobs with Justice, unions, A second strategy involves sup-legislators, physicians, nurses, reli- porting members of the coalitiongious groups, social workers, im- who are struggling with issues thatmigrant organizations and muni- relate to healthcare injustice,cipal leaders gathered. The mission including Hyatt workers who wereof the Campaign is to broaden the laid off, Shaw’s workers who werecoalition for health care reform and denied health benefits and nursesuse the increased power to carry out who have been fighting for safethree specific strategies to achieve a staffing legislation. A final strategysingle payer system for Massa- is to work with groups who havechusetts. been suffering from healthcare disparities, including immigrants, communities of color and low- income people, to broaden and strengthen our coalition for health care justice.Our legislative strategy is alreadyunderway. We are targeting as manyas forty state representative districts Pictured here:with ballot initiatives that asklegislators to support a single payer Presenters: Mass-Care Executive Directorsystem. Two hundred valid sig- Ben Day; Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Director Russ Davis; Labor Campaign fornatures of registered voters are Single Payer National Coordinator Markneeded in each targeted district and Dudzik.volunteers are vital to reach thisnumber in all the districts. Contact Open Mic, led by Mass-Care Co-Chairthe Mass-Care office to help in this Jackie Wolf: IUE-CWA Local 201 Vice-important and educational oppor- President Alex Brown; Brockton Citytunity. Mass-Care will be rewriting Councillor Jass Stewart; Mass-Careour single-payer Health Care Trust Legislative Chair Judy Deutsch; Newbill to be introduced at the England Journal of Medicine Editor- Emerita Marcia Angell; Mass-Carebeginning of next years’ legislative activists Vic Bloomberg, Jackie Ballance,session. In addition, local teams in Co-Chair Pat Berger.the targeted legislative districts willwork on getting their legislators tosupport single payer.
  3. 3. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 ~ SPRING 2010 Spring Fundraiser at Ryles a Huge Success! Twelfth Annual Mass-Care Single Payer Gala in Memory of Ben GillShow tunes, good food and inspiring Barry Levy, MD drew laughter andremarks created an afternoon of fun much applause for his satiricaland fund-raising for Mass-Care on verses about our current health careApril 17th at Ryles Jazz Club in delivery and financing system set toCambridge. the music of familiar Broadway show tunes. (Check out “Damaged Care” by Barry Levy on the web - to order your own copy.)Long time single payer supporterand all-around progressive fighterArky Markham was the individualhonoree. Known to everyone in thesocial justice movement in thePioneer Valley, Arky was a founder, Donna Smith, organizer for Nationalalong with her late husband George Nurses United, painted a soberingMarkham, of the Franklin Hampshire picture of the health care reformHealth Care Coalition, the Western effort after passage of the nationalMassachusetts Single Payer Network, healthcare bill. Donna is workingthe National Priorities Project and with single payer efforts around theSocial Workers for Peace and Justice. country. She emphasized that people are looking to Massachusetts and Mass-Care to keep moving forward to single payer health insurance reform. - Jackie Wolf, Mass-Care Co-ChairMassachusetts Jobs with Justice washonored for its work andcommitment to single payer healthcare reform. Russ Davis and JonWeissman accepted the award. Theyintroduced two Shaw supermarket Pictured here: Award recipient Arkyemployees who were out on strike Markham, JwJ recipients Jenn Doe & Jonprotesting the company’s unilateral Weisman, Damaged Care’s Barry Levy,health insurance benefit hikes. NNU national organizer Donna Smith, Shaw’s warehouse strikers, Massa- chusetts Senior Action Council Cam- bridge Chapter Membership Coordinator Ruby Woodbine, Alice Swift of the Western Massachusetts Single Payer Network, Marvin Miller of the Ethical Society of Boston, UE Northeast Region President Peter Knowlton and veteran health justice leader Grace Ross.
  4. 4. UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE EDUCATION FUND ~ VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 ~ SPRING 2010 Get Single Payer on the Ballot Support Striking Shaws Warehouse Workers! Shall the representative from this district be On March 7th, 2010, Shaws Methuen warehouse workers were instructed to support legislation that would given two bad choices; vote in a contract that had a 1% raise that establish health care as a human right would be eaten by a massive increase in health care costs and regardless of age, state of health or would allow temp workers to take their jobs, or go on strike. The employment status, by creating a single payer company said, "If you strike, the next offer will be worse." They health insurance system like Medicare that is chose to strike to protect their jobs and demand better comprehensive, cost effective, and publicly treatment. Shaws has profited off of the tough times of others provided to all residents of Massachusetts? because many of us are eating in and buying generic. There has since been one negotiation session with management and a mediator where any raises and health contributions were takenThe Massachusetts Campaign for Healthcare Justice is off the table. On April 1st Shaws cut off the health care of thespearheading a massive signature campaign to get this workers and their families including children, pregnant women andsingle-payer non-binding question on the ballot for those with serious medical conditions. These workers are doingNovember 2010. We are targeting forty state what we all should do, standing up to corporate greed. They haverepresentative districts across Massachusetts. stood strong for over three months, but they need our help to keep up the fight. Call Jobs with Justice @ 617-524-8778 to findTwo hundred valid signatures of registered voters are out what you can do to help in this fight for healthcare justice, orneeded for each district in order to get on the ballot, so go to this link: goal is to collect four hundred signatures, to be sure strikeenough are certified. Mass-Care and Jobs with Justiceare appointing volunteer captains for each district and We invite you to add your signature to a petition protesting theneed as many volunteers as possible to help with the termination of health benefits to Shaws Supermarket workers insignature collecting. Picking a location where there are Methuen.many people gathering such as grocery stores, the postoffice, or special events is the easy way to get at least It is hard to think of a better illustration of what is wrong withtwenty signatures in an hour. The deadline for submitting our health care system. Please join us by signing this letter belowpetitions to city and town clerks is July 7th.. from health professionals asking the CEO of Supervalu (which owns Shaws) not to use access to health care as a bargaining chipWe are hoping to build on-going chapters in these target against workers. You can sign by replying to this email with yourcommunities to create the pressure needed to win full name, degree, title, and affiliation. If you are not a healthsponsorship from the state representative, to build professional, there is a similar letter from members of thestrong grassroots support for real healthcare reform and community to which we can add your name. These workers deserveto carry on the fight for healthcare justice whenever and better from their employer, and all of us deserve better from ourwherever needed. Call the Mass-Care office health care system.617-723-7001 to volunteer now. The deadline isapproaching! You can listen to two of the workers wives describe how the loss of health care has affected their families personally in this videoYour financial contributions, as well as your time clip: energy, are required to keep up all thismomentum. Thank you to the MassachusettsTeachers Association for your recent generous gift,but many more contributions large and small areneeded! CommonHealth, Volume 4, Number 1: Director: Benjamin Day Editor & Photographer: Sandy Eaton Production: Erin Servaes Printing compliments of Massachusetts Nurses Association