December 9, 2009

OP-ED: The case for Single Payer health care

By Paulette Garin

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s platform contains three resolutions in regard to Healthcare Reform all supporting Single Payer.

Single Payer is the gold standard of healthcare reform. It is 100% guaranteed coverage for all Americans regardless of job transfer or pre-existing condition. It fulfills President Obama’s three principles of cost effectiveness, access and choice unlike any other proposal.

Single Payer is the only plan that guarantees “Everybody In, Nobody Out.”

Single Payer will control the costs of healthcare for millions of Americans, as well as state and local governments. By removing private and for-profit health insurance companies from participating in American healthcare, there is no need for federal taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies. No one is going to be fined, treated as a tax evader, or risk jail time for failing to buy health insurance under a Single Payer system. A Single Payer system would actually save $400 Billion annually.

Single Payer is the only plan where losing your job does not mean losing your healthcare. Single Payer guarantees your choice of doctor and hospital, unlike those whose choice remains with their insurance company.

Single Payer eliminates the shameful disparities in U.S. healthcare. The proposed expansion of Medicaid will not lessen disparities and is unsustainable as states will be forced to absorb the costs. Just because a patient has Medicaid, does not guarantee a healthcare provider will accept them and the low Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Single Payer is not “socialized medicine.” Single Payer is publicly funded, but privately driven by you and your doctor. Single Payer is quite simply “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.” Have you heard of anyone wanting to give up their Medicare?

Single Payer eliminates the bureaucratic middlemen of the insurance industry that take 31% of every healthcare dollar. No insurance company CEO will decide who has medical coverage under a Single Payer plan.

Healthcare reform in the form of Single Payer is the real economic stimulus package. The number one factor affecting an American company’s ability to be competitive in the global economy is employee health insurance costs.

If we do not get Single Payer healthcare passed at the federal level, momentum will continue to build nationwide to pass Single Payer legislation within individual states. Please encourage members of Wisconsin’s State Legislature to support Single Payer.

On July 22, 2009, President Obama gave a press conference where he said, “"I want to cover everybody… Unless you have a single-payer system… you're probably not going to reach every single individual."

What can we do right now? Call and/or write Sens. Feingold and Kohl ask them to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and his Single Payer amendments. In addition, contact Wisconsin’s entire congressional delegation asking them to support Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s amendment which would allow individual states to pursue Single Payer legislation.

Unlike any of the other proposals currently circulating through Congress, Single Payer is the most humane, cost-effective and comprehensive solution we have -- the gold standard.
Paulette Garin ran for Congress in 2008. She is now Wisconsin state coordinator of Progressive Democrats of America, a federal political action committee that champions a campaign of “Healthcare NOT Warfare.”


  1. Oh, Christ.....get ready for the conservatives.

    Get ready for a left post comment from Fred in 1,2

  2. The Translator12/09/2009 11:16 PM

    Well written after a huge gulp of the Kool Aid. Nice to know that talking points out of the socialized medicine playbook can now be published as op-ed. I know Paulette that you’re trying to keep your name out there, but really?

  3. Fancy name for a lobbyist.

  4. True - is there a "Curmudgeonly Democrats of America" or "Conservative Democrats of America"?

  5. ""Single Payer" Well I no nothing is free, so who pays and how much?
    ""Saves $400 billion". How and where does this money come from? If any of it comes from waste then how come one tenth of the time and energy being used on health-care reform hasn't already been used to stop waste and fraud in the Medicare system? If the only way to stop fraud is to revamp the whole system then I guess we need to rein-act prohibition to stop drinking and driving. What happens to all the hundreds of thousands of insurance workers? Do they become government employees? At what point do through the US Constitution in the garbage?

  6. If we stopped fighting unnecessary wars on foreign shores,we'd have the money to give our citizens free to low-cost health care. Rein in the military-industrial complex now!

  7. I'm all for single payer health care. I'm also all for single payer housing, food,utilities, car payments, boat payments, Vacations and college. Hell I think the government owes me everything. Oh did I miss I don't want to pay taxes either.

  8. 8:05

    If you're talking from the perspective of a business then you must be a Republican.

  9. What particular brand of insanity would trust the government with our health care?

    What happened to keep your hands off my body.

    They can't even run a car trade in program and Paulette the socialist trusts them to run health care?

    What three medical programs have the most problems? Medicare, medicaid and the VA.

    I know let's put them in charge of everything.

    Anon 10:48 Christ should not be mentioned on a left wing website.

  10. "Anon 10:48 Christ should not be mentioned on a left wing website."

    Nor on a right wing one since they don't practice what is preached.

  11. “Everybody In. Nobody Out."

    Wasn’t that the way the old Soviet Union operated?

    I think they used an Iron Curtain to enforce the idea.

  12. At least its marked OP-Ed

  13. Should be marked Dumb Opinion

  14. Anon 9:11

    All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... Romans 3:23

    That is freely admitted, but apparently you do not grasp the concept. Man is flawed, just because some try to be better people and fail is no reason to attack them as you have.

    Seriously, let go of your hatred you will be a happier person.

  15. "Seriously, let go of your hatred you will be a happier person."

    Thanks Yoda.

    Now, go tell that to the fanatics on the right and see what they tell you.

  16. What about the fanatics on the left?

  17. Before you know it the gov't will have all of us living in identical homes, driving the same cars and collecting allowances from Uncle Sam.

  18. By the way, this article isn't a case for single payer it's some whackjobs opinion, and you know what they say about that.

  19. The ignorant comments and name calling in these blog replys no longer surprise me. Guess i've been reading the Post for to long.

  20. I don't 1/6 of our economy under the control of the government. These are the same stewards that have screwed up about everything they touch both Dems and Repubs. Someone please show me proof that the government knows what they are doing? Where?

  21. Anon, 1:38,

    Now, let's see what government's screwed up so badly over, say, the past half century:

    It successfully rebuilt a peaceful Europe after World War II; constructed the interstate highway system; defeated the Russians in the Cold War; exponentially expanded the right to vote; provided equal access to public accommodations; reduced job discrimination; eliminated the scourges of dozens of killer diseases; ensured our air and drinking water were much cleaner; provided medical care and financial security for millions of older Americans.

    Well, we certainly wouldn't wish to cap off that list of government failures with any more noble attempts, huh?

  22. ... and, you could consider all these accomplishments to be a pretty good deal financially, as well.

    Taxes as a percentage of GDP have remained remarkably stable over the past half century. They peaked during World War II, of course, but since then, they've consistently average somewhat less than 20 percent of GDP over time.

    So, regardless of all the dire predictions of a ruinous spiral of government spending, that's actually never happened.

    Those catastrophic predictions simply never pan out.

    The tax burden gets shifted around different groups sometimes, but it remains pretty much the same for society at large.

  23. It is funny how all the conservative issues raised about the various health care plans as they came out are blasted by the left at first. Then as the real content of each plan is exposed the conservative concerns are proven to be legit. If you have questions about where this is all going talk to an honest doctor, especially one who deals with the elderly. They doctors who work the elderly are warning them that things they have covered now will be gone once any of the Washington plans go into affect.

    There has to be a way to come up with something that doesn't bankrupt the country that addresses the cost and access to healthcare. Nothing that has come out of the house or senate is affordable.

    I disagree with those on the left who say that a bad bill is better than no bill. Doing this wrong will be really bad for the country and many people.

  24. Anon 7:17,

    Health care reform doesn't touch Medicare, except to eliminate privately insured Medicare Advantage accounts, which cost the government about 12 percent more per patient than conventional Medicare.

    So, some 8 million current Medicare Advantage clients will just have to get along on the basic Medicare benefits that 40 million others find perfectly satisfactory, and which cost the government considerably less.

    If we don't weed out these wasteful aspects of the health-care system, such as Medicare Advantage, we'll never bring medical costs under control.

    None of this, however, affects basic Medicare coverage in any way for the millions of seniors currently enrolled in traditional Medicare.

    When politicians tell scary stories about "cutting Medicare," they're lying.

  25. Anon, 7:17,

    ... Oh, and don't confuse saving money on health care with cutting benefits.

    Saving money on health care makes sense.

    Health care reform, for example, authorizes the federal government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices on drugs covered by Medicare Part D. As you'll recall, President Bush's original plan banned the federal government from negotiating prices, so drug companies can charge the government whatever they want.

    So, instead of negotiating for lower prices on drugs seniors need, we wound up with a donut hole that subjects many seniors making up the different by paying an extra $5,000 in out-of-pocket drug costs per year.

    Health care reform lowers drug prices for seniors on Medicare Part D and significantly reduces the amount of money they have to pay when they fall into the donut hole.

    That's not "cutting Medicare." That's getting a better deal for taxpayers and Medicare enrollees.

  26. Anon, 7:17,

    ... I can understand why some doctors might feel uncomfortable with the current health care reform bill wending its way through the Senate.

    The bill would open up Medicare to people between 55 and 65 who could buy into Medicare on their own dime.

    But, of course, doctors make a little less money on Medicare patients because the federal government negotiates the rates, much as they'll be able to negotiate drug prices under the new legislation.

    So, yes, doctors will make a little less on the 2-3 million people expected to buy into Medicare on their own.

    Boo-hoo. With medical cost inflation growing on average 10 percent a year, I can't really cry too much for an industry that's been getting those kinds of regularly increasing returns for a decade or more.

    Does any other business get away with regular 10-percent price increases year after year after year?

    I don't think so.

    So, doctors and hospitals will have to negotiate a slow-down of fees for services, and we'll all save a little more on health care bills.

    Sounds about right to me.

  27. Paulette is 100% correct on the benefits of a single-payer system, though the opponents should take a lesson in how to be pragmatic rather that ideological. Thanks to a very corrupt congress they are going to get exactly what they want; a health care system that continues eating away at the economy and the companies that are paying (for the moment) their healthcare bill. Call it what you want but a single-payer plan is the best thing that could happen to the country (unless you work for the insurance industry, but even then new healthcare jobs will increase at twice the rate of those lost in the insurance industry).

    See Business leaders must speak up!

  28. But, of course, doctors make a little less money on Medicare patients because the federal government negotiates the rates, much as they'll be able to negotiate drug prices under the new legislation.

    So nice the way Randy puts it. Did you hear the Mayo Clinics view? They know a bit more about this than Randy does.

    BTW Randy, tell us how well the government ran Cash for Clunkers? Massive delays, problems 300% of proposed budget, and it did nothing to stimulate anything other than 4 weeks of business for primarily Japanese auto makers...

    Back to Mayo:

    The current Medicare payment system is financially unsustainable. Any plan to expand Medicare, which is the government’s largest public plan, beyond its current scope does not solve the nation’s health care crisis, but compounds it. We need to fix Medicare by moving it to a system that pays for value – quality health outcomes that are affordable over time – and ensure its success, before bringing more people into a broken system.

    Expanding this system to persons 55 to 64 years old would ultimately hurt patients by accelerating the financial ruin of hospitals and doctors across the country. A majority of Medicare providers currently suffer great financial loss under the program. Mayo Clinic alone lost $840 million last year under Medicare. As a result of these types of losses, a growing number of providers have begun to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practices. Despite these provider losses, Medicare has not curbed overall spending, especially after adjusting for benefits covered and the cost shift from Medicare to private insurance. This is clearly an unsustainable model, and one that would be disastrous for our nation’s hospitals, doctors and eventually our patients if expanded to even more beneficiaries.

    It’s also clear that an expansion of the price-controlled Medicare payment system will not control overall Medicare spending or curb costs. The Commonwealth Fund has reported this result for Medicare overall by looking at two time periods – one four-year period where Medicare physician fees increased and one four-year period where Medicare physician fees decreased. Overall cost per beneficiary increased at the same rate during each time period. This scenario follows the typical pattern for price controls – reduced access, compromised quality and increasing costs anyway. We need to address these problems – not perpetuate them – through health reform legislation.

    We believe insurance coverage can be achieved without creating or expanding a government-run, price-controlled, Medicare-like insurance model.

  29. Jack do your really think hiring more people will enter the medical field if the gov't controls it?

  30. Ah yes, and Fred at Real debate is the expert. Having spent 40 years in health care and now on Medicare, if I get sick I’d much rather have Medicare rather than being in private insurance where the CEOs are financially rewarded for denying care when you need it. Medicare spends 95% of its dollars on providing care and the privates spend 80-85%. And I see the same private doctor that I’ve seen for years.

    But some people like to rattle off the right-wing scare tactics.

    Suffice it to say that Fred is just totally misinformed. If 100% of our population were covered by Medicare, as Paulette said, we’d save $400 billion dollars in health care. The elimination of the 31% of insurance industry waste would be spent providing care to the 45 million uninsured.

    Yes, Medicare needs fixes but nowhere near those needed in the 1300 private insurance companies. As a former Medicare provider I can assure you that Medicare is “fair.” About a 5% profit, but not the 400% often seen by billing the privates. As much as I respect Mayo I can only say that they disagree with the 60% of physicians and 80% of nurses who support Medicare-for-all. See

    And Anonymous, that should answer your question too. Have you ever tried to fight for payment from a private insurer? I have. I much preferred dealing with Medicare.

  31. Real Debate,

    Like I said, I fully expect opposition from the medical industry and insurers when they realize their escalating price gravy train is over.

  32. Real Debate says, "The Commonwealth Fund has reported this result for Medicare overall by looking at two time periods – one four-year period where Medicare physician fees increased and one four-year period where Medicare physician fees decreased. Overall cost per beneficiary increased at the same rate during each time period."

    You've identified a real problem with our current health care delivery system. If doctors are paid less per procedure, some simply order more procedures to make up the difference.

    We should end that kind of Medicare fraud and abuse, but then you'd probably call it "rationing" care.

    No, keeping track of which procedures work and which procedures are unnecessary (another key aspect of the bill) would certainly go a long way in helping government ferret out the fraud and abuse inherent in the current system.

    Unless your solution is to just let things go on as they are, with ever-spiraling health care costs paid by all of us while millions of others go uninsured.

  33. ... it is rather disingenuous when some opponents of health care reform complain of the way the system works now, yet consistently avoid joining the effort to fix these problems.

    It's almost as if they want bad things to continue in the system so they can continue to complain about them.

    The very objects of their complaints are the very things health care reform fixes.

    That's why so many Republicans in Congress are becoming so disreputable in their efforts to block reform rather than fix a broken system.

  34. Randolph, these "opponents" usually fall into one of several categories. They are sometimes industry hacks but are usually right-wing ideologues who have a job (currently) with an employer that provides health care (at the moment) and have not yet been caught with a serious family disease and no insurance.

    Live with it. They'd rather give the finger than a helping hand.

    But as a former businessman I wonder about their business sense. A single-payer system would be the best corporate bailout ever, for 100% of our corporations and not just the bankers. Companies would not have to outsource jobs to other countries that already have universal health care, and our economy would recover that munch more rapidly.

    Where are their heads?

  35. No one apparently watches 60 Minutes. Huge fraud with Medicare, Medicare is bankrupt. What happens with single payer when one party wants to get reelcted? They will promise goodies in the healthcare system, price goes up. 400% profit crap. Medicare sucks, people don't want to get out cause they have no other choice. All the money they paid into it would have gone a lot farther had they put it in an account ,d let it accumulate interest. Then they could spend their money as they see fit. Our country is broke, you keep printing money, we will end up like the former Soviet Union. I will move to state that repsects freedom and self resposibility, you can have your socialism.

  36. Brad, no one will miss you.

  37. Brad, having spent 40 years in the healthcare industry let me assure you that their is a lot more fraud on the private side than Medicare because (a) it is more profitable, and (b) rarely results in jail time. And you are wrong on why nobody wants out of Medicare. It's because it uses the same private system you do, and it is great. IF you are interested in learning about the Medicare-for-all system, please look here:

    Otherwise you'll have to go to another country, but get this: THEY ALL HAVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ALREADY!!!


  38. Where will the money come from when people use their health benefits more often than necessary and costs triple because these folks think it is "free"? I am not against caring for people but I also understand human behavior. They will use and abuse the system. Just look at the current day care debacle.
    This is a huge cost adjustment that is not factored in when the costs/budgets are calculated.

  39. 10:48 warned "Oh, Christ . . . get ready for the conservatives". In fact this op-ed seems to have raised Randy from his stupor. In fact, he's now posted more than Paulette. Just give him another byline guys. Avoid the middle man/woman.

  40. Anonymous, people do not generally like sitting in doctor's waiting rooms, but the few that do will be more than offset by the savings in a simplified system. You get sick, you get care, and the caregiver gets paid. Trust me: if medicare were not less expensive than private, the insurance industry would not have battled against a public option.

  41. At the risk of further pissing off Anon 4:33, let it be noted that I'm not endorsing a single-payer system, not that it wouldn't be a bad idea.

    What's being discussed now is a different health-care reform bill that would provide more people care that they pay for.

    I guess he hasn't been paying much attention to the debate, or he's been taken in by all the false information that's being carelessly spewed around.

    Indeed, one purpose of health care reform is to encourage people to get more care, earlier, so they don't cost so much later.

    The problem isn't with people getting too much health care they don't pay for; it's not getting enough health care that they're perfectly willing to pay for but can't get now because insurance companies shut them out.

    Get with the actual debate or stay on the porch.

  42. Dear Randy - Just in case you hadn't noticed . . . I said nothing one way or another about the merits of single payer or any other type of "health reform". I merely noted that you can't seem to keep from foaming at the mouth, and suggested that Dustin & Pete give you another shot or two at your own op-ed. In that way readers won't have to feel sorry for poor Paulette while you try to hog the stage.

    And also Randy, for the record, far from being PO'd, I rather enjoy reading your pompous blabbering. It's rather an education for us peons.

  43. At the core of this discussion is greed! Profits ahead of people has been the norm since the days of Reagan's "greed is good"! Making a profit off of someones healthcare must stop! Under our current,profit driven healthcare system is the highest infant death rate among industrialized nations and the lowest life expectancy!? The corporations that are making us sick (i.e. MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken,Burger King,etc.etc.) should be made to pay higher taxes if they are to continue to sell us their toxic food. Like the tobacco industry they must be held accountable. We are an overweight, statin dependant nation with type 2 diabetes running rampant! We need another

  44. Health care. Very few phrases envelope so many different aspects of an area of discipline. It can be confusing to know where to go to and when, and this issue has led to a cascade of health problems for our population and our population's health care system.