Vermont Single Payer: What It Is and What You Can Do

Originally published January 22, 2011 - 21:46

Ed. Note: The following is a diary written by Kossack DrSteveB and is reprinted with permission and without further comment from myself - CM1

Throughout 2009 and into early 2010, while the health reform we got nationally was being watered down by the corporate conservadems in the Senate, the Vermont legislature was moving forward. An important step was back in June 2010 when they decided upon the Harvard-MIT analytic group led by Prof. William S. Hsiao (who had done some of the modeling for Taiwan's transition from private insurance to single payer) and Jonathan Gruber (who did some of the modeling for the Obama-Baucus reform we got nationally).

They were charged with providing detailed policy and economic analysis of three possible proposals, two of which was to be variations of single payer. In Vermont, the least progressive proposal was the equivalent of the most progressive that the U.S. House of Representatives considered, being a relatively strong public option while leaving private insurance in place to compete. That was the charge from Vermont legislature, suggesting strong and real support for single payer. In November, Democrat Peter Shumlin won election for Governor running explicitely on a single payer platform.

The Health Care Hydra

guest post by Ludlow

I've been a critical care nurse for 12 years. I rarely find out about the costs my patients incur as they get care in my unit, though occasionally I hear figures. One gentleman, who had open heart surgery to fix one of his heart valves had to come back 3 months later for a re-do. His wife told me that they had just received the bills that added up to almost $200,000. That was about 8 years ago.

Not long ago I learned that the charge per day in intensive care units like mine was now $11,000. Not unrelated to that fact, just the other day, one of our patients who was a 'self pay' (read 'no insurance') was quickly and quietly packed up and transferred to the county hospital for the remainder of her critical care stay which was going to be several days.

More Medical Bankruptcy-Have Insurance, Go Bankrupt

Dear President Obama,Senator Baucus and Speaker Pelosi:

Will your health refrom end medical bankruptcy?
Just asking...?


What a great system we have in the United States!

As Senator Baucus and other continue to defend propping up the "uniquely American" system of for-profit private insurance, that system continue to cause a uniquely American event: Personal bankruptcy due to illness and medical bills. This does not occur in other countries.

There is a new, follow-up study (.pdf) on the subject just out today, in the leading professional peer review American Journal of Medicine:

Illness and medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of all United States bankruptcies in 2007

Harvard study finds 50 percent increase from 2001

Most of those bankrupted by illness were middle class and had insurance

Follow me  for the sad gory details

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Downloadable copies of press release and info above is at the PNHP website here.

And again, downloadable full text of professional peer review journal article is here.

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Sanders Talks Single Payer With Ed

Video via Heather at Crooks and Liars' Video Cafe:

Just note what Sanders says near the end about the fact that it is Democratic party members that want to make it a 60 vote healthcare debate virtually guaranteeing to keep the most conservative Democratic party members in conjunction with the near extinct gopasaurs in the right wing in the drivers seat on the healthcare debate. Via PNHP:

Important coverage of PNHP co-founder Dr. David Himmelstein's single-payer testimony on Capitol Hill on April 23, including in the Congressional Quarterly, Kaiser, and the San Diego Union Tribune, among other places.

Single payer action items below...

Let's Shut Down the Fax Machines Again

Clark Newhall

Our last weekend was a great success.  We shut down fax machines in the offices of Sen. Baucus, Rep. Pelosi (Washington and DC offices) and the White House.  We sent over 7000 faxes in those three days.

it's time to do this again, because single payer is still being ignored at this critical time.  The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Baucus, is holding 'roundtable hearings' in the next week to hear about health reform.  Guess what.  Not only is there no single payer advocate invited to testify -- there has not even been an invitation to a doctor!!!  Donna Smith tells me that the only medical person testifying is a nurse from AARP; we know what she is shilling for -- more overpriced insurance policies AARP can sell to rip off seniors withUnbelievable!!

At the request of Katie Robbins from HealthCareNow, we have created a new fax that you can send to any member of the Senate Finance Committee.  A copy will also go to the usual suspects at the White House.  Because the fax was written by Katie, the language is much less inflammatory than my typical rhetoric, but that's ok.  I don't think anyone reads these anyway after the first 500 or so, they just count them.

So let's give them a pile of faxes to count.  Send yours today.  It's Free.  It's Easy.  That makes it Free and Easy.  Just put your name, your  email, where you are from and any comment you like, then hit the SEND YOUR FAX NOW button. If you like, you can send one to each of the Senators on the list.  Have fun and let's see how many fax machines crash this weekend.

Take a moment to donate too.  The time is NOW to make the most of our overwhelming show of support for single payer Medicare For All.  We can do that by adding the Mike Farrell videos to nationwide TV but we need your donation. 

The ads are scheduled to go on Larry King Live and on Hardball beginning this weekend, but every ad costs money.  Help increase the number of ads we can show.  So far we have enough to show the ads to 3 million people in the next weekWe need your donation to raise that to ten million.  Let's get those ads pushed out as far as we can.  Help us now.

Now that we are in: what to ask for at Health Summit

Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:20:49 PM EST

As of now we know that among the 120 people invitd to the White House Health Summit there are two single payer advocates: Representative John Conyers the lead sponsor for HR-676 and Dr. Oli Fein the president of PNHP.  

What do we do now?

My suggestion for what would seem to be a non-radical, non-shrill, non-extremist request/get:

"There must be a complete, honest, side-by-side comparison of all proposals, including HR-676, by the Congressional Budget Office"

Not just what Senator Baucus pre-determines to allow.

What are they afraid of?  

Let there be a honest and open debate, comparing all the true total costs all proposals!

An Economically Created Health Care Disaster

And your state is sure to be suffering:

Medicaid rolls are surging, by unprecedented rates in some states, as the recession tightens its grip on the economy and Americans lose their employer-sponsored health coverage along with their jobs.” In many states, Medicaid rolls grew by 5 to 10 percent in the last year, often double the growth the previous year. Congress is likely to extend Medicaid aid to states in the upcoming stimulus package.

And, as early as March, Obama will be moving forward on health care reform, according to the Politico:

The move signals Obama’s intent to keep one of the most ambitious and politically crucial campaign promises at the top of his agenda. On the campaign trail, Obama pledged to provide universal health care by the end of his first term, but the severity of the economic downturn has raised doubts about how quickly he can deliver on that promise. Obama and his point person on health care, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, have staffed up like they plan to push forward with it, lining up a roster of communications and policy strategists to assist in the effort.

I wrote last week on a Tom Daschle statement that could be taken as a signal of which way Obama wants him to go: