Portland, OR Laborers Local 483 (LIUNA) has endorsed HR 676, single
payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers
(D-MI). The local represents 900 City of Portland workers in the
Maintenance, Parks and Environmental Services Bureau.
Wesley Buchholz, Director of Political Action for the local who made the
presentation to the membership meeting, said: “Like the rest of the
nation we are in dire economic times and facing layoffs. Relief must come
for all working people. HR 676 is the most sensible way to provide
massive aid both economic and physical. Our members want to add their
voices to the demand for social and economic justice and join this
groundswell movement attempting to amend the tyrannical system that values
profits before people.”
Is a public Medicare-like option in a market of private plans a viable solution?
Response by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler:
The “public plan option” won’t work to fix the health care system for 2 reasons.
1 – It foregoes at least 84% of the administrative savings available through single payer. The public plan option would do nothing to streamline the administrative tasks (and costs) of hospitals, physicians offices, and nursing homes, which would still contend with multiple payers, and hence still need the complex cost tracking and billing apparatus that drives administrative costs. These unnecessary provider administrative costs account for the vast majority of bureaucratic waste. Hence, even 95% of Americans who are currently privately insured were to join the public plan (and it had overhead costs at current Medicare levels), the savings on insurance overhead would amount to only 16% of the roughly $400 billion annually achievable through single payer – not enough to make reform affordable.
2 – A quarter century of experience with public/private competition in the Medicare program demonstrates that the private plans will not allow a level playing field. Despite strict regulation, private insurers have successfully cherry picked healthier seniors, and have exploited regional health spending differences to their advantage. They have progressively undermined the public plan – which started as the single payer for seniors and has now become a funding mechanism for HMOs – and a place to dump the unprofitably ill. A public plan option does not lead toward single payer, but toward the segregation of patients; with profitable ones in private plans and unprofitable ones in the public plan.
New York—About 10,000 protesters marched through the Wall Street financial district April 4 chanting “Money for Healthcare not for war, that is what we’re marching for.”
It was the 42st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famed “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church April 4, 1967. Many banners and signs bore photos of Dr. King with the message “Beyond War, A New Economy is Possible. Yes We Can.”
The marchers assembled on Broadway above Canal Street and streamed down the avenue at noon led by a contingent of Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, and Iraq Veterans Against the War. “Hands off Afghanistan” “Fund Human Needs not War” and “Give Me A J-O-B so I can E-A-T” were some of the thousands of signs and placards.
Rose Taylor of Baltimore was one of many people in wheelchairs who rolled past the New York Stock Exchange. She was holding a sign that read, “We Need a People’s Bank.”