Economic Impact Study Shows PA Saves $1000/person With Single Payer

Healthcare4AllPA released an anticipated economic impact study today showing huge savings for Pennsylvania, significant employment gains and a healthier, more productive workforce should it adopt a single payer system of health care.  The study was done by Gerald Friedman an economist at the University of Massachusetts.  It says the Pennsylvania Health care Plan, if implemented, would save every Pennsylvanian $1,000/year in health care costs.  It would provide blanket care including dental, prescriptions, vision and home health care with no deductibles or co-payments.  Health care spending in the Commonwealth is increasing at an unsustainable rate and the percentage of those without care is now at 11%.

Personal health care spending has been rising at an unsustainable pace in Pennsylvania, more than doubling between 1997 and 2012 (see Figure 1).  Health care costs have risen faster than income, raising the share of health care in the Pennsylvania economy from 14 percent of state income in 1997 to over 19 percent in 2012 (see Figure 2).  Health care cost inflation is squeezing disposable income for Pennsylvanians.  Had health care spending per person risen only as fast as the consumer price index, then spending would be 37% less, saving the average Pennsylvanian over $3000 (see Figure 1).  Had health care spending remained at the 1997 share of income, the average resident of Pennsylvania would have spent over $2300 less on health care, or over $9000 less for a family of four in 2012.

Under the Plan every Pennsylvanian would be covered and monies currently being expended by Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, private companies purchasing health insurance and state and local governments would combine with a 10% payroll tax and a 3% personal income tax would provide enough money to cover everyone with $1.1 billion left over.  Cost savings from the current system is sufficient to cover every single person with fully comprehensive care.

According to the study this would provide a healthy, productive workforce, make the Commonwealth extremely attractive to businesses and employers and save them tremendous amounts in overhead currently diverted to health management.  It then would free businesses to focus on their core business functions.

Overall health care spending in Pennsylvania would fall from $144 billion to $128 billion a savings of 11%.  It predicts job growth of 226,000 jobs as a result of such legislation passing the state legislature.

Seeing the specific numbers causes one to wonder how anyone in state government could oppose such a plan.  The savings for state and local governments alone is huge and when combined with the job numbers, the improved health of the state’s population  and the fact it solves a major problem within the state this is a no brainer.

The Pennsylvania Plan would produce substantial health and economic gains for Pennsylvania. The new system would create such large economies in the administration of health care that all of those currently uninsured could be given access to health care with money left over.  Furthermore, by financing health care with taxes linked to income, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan would produce large savings for the great majority of Pennsylvania residents.  Finally, by reducing business costs, it would also lead to expansion in employment.

Health Care Forum Held in Kutztown

I was in Kutztown last evening covering a forum on single payer healthcare and got to see my old friend Chuck Pennacchio for the time in ages.  He is Executive Director of and was accompanied by Board President Dave Steil.  Dave is a former businessman and retired State Representative.  They were joined by dedicated activists Rosie Skomitz and Ron Stouffer while Chuck Brown emceed the evening.  A lot of old friends from the Kutztown area were there and I don’t get up to that neck of the woods as much since moving to Mt. Penn a year ago.  It was nice to see old friends.

Healthcare has been bankrupting this country and giving us a poor return in terms of outcomes for too many people.  I’ve been a strong supporter of single payer and helped this organization in its early years with a bit of consulting (for disclosure purposes).  Chuck spoke first followed by Dave.  Rosie then spoke for a time before a lengthy question and answer period began.  There were good questions and good answers.  I jumped in at one point to further clarify steps being taken to expand medical services ahead of ObamaCare’s implementation with my knowledge as a Planned Parenthood Board member.

Emcee Chuck Brown, publisher of Common Sense 2:

Healthcare For All PA Executive Director Chuck Pennacchio:

Healthcare For All PA Board President Dave Steil:

Activist Rosie Skomitz:


Medicare Isn’t the Problem, It Is the Solution

Republicans are traveling the country conducting town halls where they are trying to explain their votes for Congressman Ryan’s radical Medicare overhaul.  Their talking points include repeating that Medicare isn’t sustainable and something must be done to halt runaway health care spending.  They are mistaken because what is unsustainable is our broken health care system.  Medicare isn’t the contributing factor to that.  Private health insurers abusing clients, patients and taxpayers are the problem.

Twenty five per cent of our health care dollars are wasted.  We spend double the amount on medical care per capita than any other western civilized nation.  We have only the 37th best health care system.  Our dollars aren’t buying us quality because too many of them are wasted.

Waste in health care is vast.  CEO salaries in the millions of dollars, marketing expenses, salaries for doctors whose sole mission is to deny coverage to critically ill patients when they need it most.  Overhead costs in private industry dwarf that of Medicare:  2-3% compared to 25-30%.  59 million uninsured people wait until care is far more expensive before seeking treatment.  18,000 Americans die each year due to lack of coverage.  We went to war for seven years (so far) because 3200 of our fellow citizens die yet every year we allow 18,000 to expire because we won’t fix our health care system.

Our priorities are all out of order.  People going to an emergency room instead of a community clinic raises costs astronomically.  This is waste.  Insurance companies continue shifting costs to consumers and patients until our out of pocket costs are more than we can bear.  We aren’t getting quality and we aren’t getting good outcomes.  If our health care system were a Defense Department program we would scrap it and start anew.  This is where medicare becomes the solution.

At present Medicare is only eligible for people over age 65, the permanently, totally disabled and orphans.  It pays on an 80/20 basis meaning it covers 80% of costs and either the patient or supplemental insurance the remaining 20%.  It also covers most prescription drugs.  By expanding the coverage and extending it to every American we can create a health care for all single payer system.  We already have a management system in place and people love Medicare.  Eliminating the waste in the current broken system means we can cover everyone 100% with no co-pays or deductibles.

Vermont just passed, and its Governor signed, a single payer system.  Here in Pennsylvania efforts by a non profit group called Healthcare For All PA led by Chuck Pennacchio is trying to pass a comprehensive single payer system.  All medical expenses would be covered including mental health.  It would have no co-pays, no deductibles and cost each person a 3% personal income tax each year and a 10% tax on gross payrolls.  It would save the Commonwealth, counties, school districts and other municipalities billions every year over the current system.  That would balance our state budget and lower many local taxes.  Meanwhile every Pennsylvanian would have full access to quality medical care.  That, in turn, would lure businesses and jobs.  A healthy workforce is a productive workforce.

Therefore we see that Medicare isn’t the problem but the solution.  What is being proposed on these state levels can be easily done nationally by expanding Medicare and enrolling everyone.  We can cover everyone, make health care a right, save 18,000 lives per year, have a better system and better outcomes while cutting costs to something we can afford.

Obama to Allow State Innovation on HCR

President Obama announced today he will support efforts in Congress to allow individual states to enhance health care reform as long as they follow certain criteria such as not adding tot he deficit.  This effort could advance the enaction of single state single payer.  Healthcare4AllPA under Chuck Pennacchio has been trying to pass such legislation here.  It could cut local, county and state costs for employee provided health care by billions.  The Affordable Care Act requires that no such individual state effort be allowed until 2017.  President Obama now supports bringing that down to 2014.

On February 28, President Obama reiterated his belief that States should have the power and flexibility to innovate and find the health care solutions that work best for them and announced his support for accelerating State Innovation Waivers and allowing states to apply for them starting in 2014.  

Beginning in 2017, the law allows States the flexibility to receive a State Innovation Waiver so they may pursue their own innovative strategies to ensure their residents have access to high quality, affordable health insurance.  These strategies – which must provide affordable insurance coverage to at least as many residents as the Affordable Care Act and must not increase the federal deficit – could include allowing large employers to purchase coverage through State Exchanges or increasing the number of benefit levels to provide more choices for individuals and small businesses.

Under the bipartisan “Empowering States to Innovate Act” introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Scott Brown, and Mary Landrieu, State Innovation Waivers would be available three years earlier than under current law, so long as States meet certain criteria, including certifying that their proposals would cover at least as many of their residents as the policies in the Affordable Care Act would have covered.

The proposal offers States more flexibility while ensuring that all Americans, no matter where they live have access to affordable, accessible health insurance.  Additionally, the proposal includes built-in protections to ensure that these waivers do not increase the Federal budget deficit.  

The Affordable Care Act already creates a critical role for States.  It provides them with the flexibility and resources necessary to innovate and implement reform in the manner that works best for them. The law has already made nearly $2.8 billion available to states and every State has taken steps – and, in some cases, bold actions – to implement the law and improve health insurance accountability and affordability for their citizens. States can design their own Exchanges, shape their Medicaid programs, and take the lead in enforcing patient protections and reviewing rates increases of private insurers.  

Empowering States to Innovate

Under the Affordable Care Act, State Innovation Waivers allow States to propose and test alternative ways to meet the shared goals of making health insurance affordable and accessible to all Americans, including those living with pre-existing conditions.  Specifically, State Innovation Waivers are designed to allow States to implement policies that differ from the new law so long as they:

·         Provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive as the coverage offered through Exchanges – a new competitive, private health insurance marketplace.

·         Make coverage at least as affordable as it would have been through the Exchanges.

·         Provide coverage to at least as many residents as the Affordable Care Act would have provided.

·         Do not increase the Federal deficit.


Hundreds Rally For Single Payer

About 600 supporters of single payer health care rallied in Harrisburg yesterday for state sponsored bills HB 1660 and SB 400.  With real healthcare reform going nowhere on the federal level the only place where actual progress can be made is in the states.  The lengthy rally featured many speakers including Wendell Potter, former VP of Communications for CIGNA, Donna Smith from “Sicko,” sponsors Sen. Jim Ferlo and Rep. Kathy Manderino, four members of the Baucus 8 and former NARAL President Kate Michelman.

The Senate Finance Committee bill does not provide for a public option or prohibits health insurers from denying medical coverage.  It actually does little to reform the system and forces all Americans to buy insurance from the corporate killers whose actions have resulted in 45,000 deaths per year.

More video after the bump…

Opposition Rallies: One Effective, One Not

I saw two starkly different approaches to countering the insurance company hacks at events this morning.  In Reading the people who turned out were single payer plan supporters and many are involved in Healthcare4AllPA.  In Lebanon there were perhaps a hundred or more from HCAN or Health Care For America Now.  The single payer advocates stayed away from the three supporters and stood on the other side of the bus holding signs and being respectful.  The HCAN people were loud, in your face protesters.  They even had a megaphone and mike and challenged the lunatics chanting “health care now!”  This opened the door for them to point fingers for the press and chant “angry mob!”

This was disappointing to witness because HCAN’s bad tactic allowed the angry mob to call them an angry mob.  Far and away the best, most effective strategy has been to remain silent and simply show up and hold signs.  Being respectful always gives a better impression.  The press loves a good visual and HCAN provided a good visual this morning.  Good for TV but bad for the cause.

500 to Gather Thursday For Single Payer Healthcare

Five hundred people are expected to descend on the Capital Rotunda in Harrisburg Thursday to rally for singl epayer healthcare reform.  Rallying for House Bill 1660 and Senate Bill 400 Healthcare 4 ALL PA will ask state legislators to fund an economic impact study on healthcare in the Commonwealth and for passage of medical care in which everone is IN and nobody OUT.

A study released last week shows that (as of 2007, before the recession) 60% of all bankruptcies are caused by medical costs and that 80% of these people HAD health insurance.  This proves that passing “reform” which includes the health insurance industry is a cruel hoax.  That industry IS the problem, not the solution.  A huge government bailout of this industry which mandating purchase of insurance really is, will only make poor people poorer without alleviating the problems with the broken system.

Harrisburg – Several hundred Pennsylvanians will rally at the Capitol Rotunda, 11 a.m., Thursday, June 11, in support of newly reintroduced Senate Bill 400 and House Bill 1660, the “Family and Business Healthcare Security Act.”  The Harrisburg unity gathering represents the broadest coalition of groups ever to support the Single Payer Solution: publicly-funded, privately-delivered, quality, comprehensive, healthcare for all.

In addition to Patricia Eakin, RN from Temple University Hospital and PASNAP President, speakers will include William George, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; David Fillman, Executive Director, AFSCME 13; Representative Thomas Murt, Republican, Montgomery County; Donna Smith, California Nurses Association/NNOC and star of documentary “SiCKO; Mike Stout, President, Steel Valley Printers of Pittsburgh; and Chuck Pennacchio, Executive Director, Healthcare for All Pennsylvania.          

WHO:   Dressed in hospital gowns, hundreds of nurses, doctors, patients, healthcare advocates and labor unions along with State Representatives and Senators who support single-payer healthcare in Pennsylvania

WHAT:     Healthcare Rally at Capitol

WHEN:     Thursday, June 11th, 11:00 Entertainment; 11:30-12:30 Speakers

WHERE:  Capitol Rotunda, 100 Third Ave, Harrisburg, PA, 17120