Tag Archives: single payer

It seems that Bernie Sanders’ has solid econ numbers

bernie sanders

I have heard it over and over again. Bernie Sanders is promising too much. Where is he going to get the money? His numbers just don’t add up. Well, maybe his numbers do add up. I have been following Bernie Sanders for over a decade. He is a serious politician. He isn’t the type of politician that will just throw out stuff.

From Robert Reich:

Not day goes by, it seems, without the mainstream media bashing Bernie Sanders’s economic plan – quoting certain economists as saying his numbers don’t add up. (The New York Times did it again just yesterday.) They’re wrong. You need to know the truth, and spread it.

1. “Well, do the numbers add up?”

Yes, if you assume a 3.8 percent rate of unemployment and a 5.3 percent rate of growth.

2. “But aren’t these assumptions unrealistic?”

They’re not out of the range of what’s possible. After all, we achieved close to 3.8 percent unemployment in the late 1990s, and we had a rate of 5.3 percent growth in the early 1980s.

3. “What is it about Bernie’s economic plan that will generate this kind of economic performance?”

His proposal for a single-payer healthcare system.

4. “But yesterday’s New York Times reported that two of your colleagues at Berkeley found an error in the calculations underlying these estimates. They claim Professor Gerald Friedman mistakenly assumes that a one-time boost in growth will continue onward. They say he confuses levels of output with rates of change.”

My esteemed colleagues see only a temporary effect from moving to a single-payer plan. But that view isn’t shared by economists who find that a major policy change like this can permanently improve economic performance. After all, World War II got America out of the Great Depression – permanently.

5. “So you think Bernie’s plan will generate a permanent improvement in the nation’s economic performance?”

Yes. Given that healthcare expenditures constitute almost 18 percent of the U.S. economy – and that ours is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, based on private for-profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that spend fortunes on advertising, marketing, administrative costs, high executive salaries, and payouts to shareholders – it’s not far-fetched to assume that adoption of a single-payer plan will permanently improve U.S. economic performance.

Over 4.3 million American were added to the list of uninsured last year

This is from Physicians for a National Health Program.

Official estimates by the Census Bureau showing a dramatic spike of 4.3 million in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2009 – to a record 50.7 million – underscore the urgency of going beyond the Obama administration’s new health law and swiftly implementing a single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all program, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, a 17,000-member physician group.

The Census Bureau reported that 16.7 percent of the population lacked health insurance coverage in 2009, up from 15.4 percent in 2008, when 46.3 million were uninsured.

Lack of health insurance is known to have deadly consequences. Last year researchers at Harvard Medical School showed that 45,000 deaths annually can be linked to lack of coverage.

“Tragically, we know that the new figures of uninsured mean a preventable annual death toll of about 51,000 people – that’s about one death every 11 minutes,” said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of PNHP. Young is a Chicago-based retired physician whose private medical practice once counted President Obama among its patients.

Young said that even if the administration’s new health law works as planned, the Congressional Budget Office has projected about 50 million people will be uninsured for the next three years and about 23 million people will remain uninsured in 2019.

“Today’s report suggests those projections are likely too low,” he said.

The jump of 4.3 million uninsured is the largest one-year increase on record and would have been much higher – over 10 million – had there not been a huge expansion of public coverage, primarily Medicaid, to an additional 5.8 million people.

The rise in the number of uninsured was almost entirely due to a sharp decline in the number of people with employer-based coverage by 6.6 million. In 2009, 55.8 percent of the population had such coverage, having declined for the ninth consecutive year from 64.2 percent in 2000.

The record-breaking number of uninsured – exceeding 50 million for the first time since the Census Bureau started keeping records – includes 7.5 million children.

The biggest jumps in the percentage of uninsured were in Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Delaware, North Carolina and Florida. In terms of absolute numbers, the biggest increases were in California, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Alabama, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts, 295,000 people remain uninsured despite that state’s 2006 reform. (See link below for historical tables of the uninsured by state.)

“The only way to solve this problem is to insure everyone,” Young said. “And the only way to insure everyone at a reasonable cost is to enact single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all. Single payer would streamline bureaucracy, saving $400 billion a year on administrative overhead, enough to pay for all the uninsured and to upgrade everyone else’s coverage.”

Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a PNHP board member and chief of general internal medicine at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, noted that the Census Bureau was once again silent on the pervasive problem of “underinsurance.”

“Not having health insurance, or having poor quality insurance that doesn’t protect you from financial hardship in the face of medical need, is a source of mounting stress and poor medical outcomes for people across our country,” Carrasquillo said. New research has found that about 14.1 million children and 25 million non-elderly adults were underinsured in 2007, a figure that is likely much higher today.

“The government subsidies under the new health law will not be sufficient to provide quality and affordable coverage to the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “Tens of millions will remain uninsured, underinsured and without access to care. We need more fundamental reform to a single-payer national health insurance program.”

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State-by-state data on the uninsured from 2006-2009 can be found here: www.pnhp.org/sites/default/files/docs/2010/Uninsured-by-state-2006-2009.pdf

Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is an organization of more than 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions or call (312) 782-6006.

Progressives — let's fall in line, sort of

There’s a famous line from the TV show M*A*S*H in which Frank Burns says something like, “I think it is okay if we are all have different opinions just as long as we think alike.” This is the conservative movement. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the give-and-take that makes us different from conservatives. We’ve actively argued over withdrawal versus escalation in Afghanistan. We have actively argued over the size of the stimulus and how to use the funding. Many of us wanted to help homeowners that were underwater and others thought a huge investment in infrastructure was the best use of our money. We fought over health-care reform. We agreed that we did not get an opportunity to talk honestly about single-payer, but what about the public option? Some of us wanted to actively oppose any health-care bill without a public option. Others thought that something was better than nothing.

So today, President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Let the fighting begin. Discussion is healthy. We didn’t have this type of discussion over Sonia Sotomayor because she was such a perfect nominee. Solicitor General Kagan has never been a judge. We don’t know her opinions on the important progressive questions of the day — what does she feel about executive power? Does the president have the power to label an American citizen an enemy combatant and hold that person without trial indefinitely? What is her feeling on Roe versus Wade? What about illegal wiretaps? We do not have any significant record of her thoughts on these or other important matters that are going to come before the Supreme Court. Glenn Greenwald, progressive blogger, has argued against the unknown. He believes that she’s a terrible nominee because there are so many unknowns. Others have argued that Barack Obama really has not led us too far off the path. Let’s see how she answers questions in the Senate hearings and then pass judgment. Who’s right?

Personally, the former Dean of Harvard Law School doesn’t do much for me. I was looking for the President to nominate someone who is so liberal that it would shake up the Senate. I really would like somebody on the Supreme Court to balance out the craziness of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. I wanted to see Senator Jeff Sessions grab his heart like Fred Sanford because the Supreme Court nominee was that liberal. Of course, this is my twisted pipedream. In reality, I know that it is in Barack Obama’s DNA to compromise. He will avoid confrontation if possible. Therefore, I knew that he was going to nominate someone who is fairly middle-of-the-road. Kagan is in the middle. (I was looking toward Judge Sears or Wood.)

Let’s continue the discussion. I don’t have any more insight into Elena Kagan than anyone else. I like the discussion. I think it is healthy. I know it is healthy. It shows the diversity of our progressive movement. I continue to look forward to our discussions on financial reform and immigration reform. Damn it, this is what democracy is about. It isn’t about a few guys in the back room deciding what the talking points for the whole movement should be. It’s about throwing ideas back and forth. It is about us being open-minded enough to begin to coalesce around a single idea or concept and then push our politicians in the right direction.