The time for single-payer, universal healthcare may be coming. Sunday afternoon there was a hearing about it here in Pittsburgh. A number of people testified about their problems with our current system and Rep. John Conyers from Michigan and several of our local pols, including Rep. Mike Doyle, spoke. Conyers has introduced a bill in committee, HR 676, which would create a national healthcare system for everyone, similar to Medicare. Our Congressman, Mike Doyle has signed on to the bill along with 68 other Democrats. Republicans are evidently universally on the side of the insurance companies. Because this really is a fight that pits patients and health care providers against those insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and for-profit hospitals. And the profits are amazing: 20 to 30 percent of our healthcare dollars go to the shareholders and executives of those companies who are providing nothing but aggravation for the rest of us.
Equally interesting, Jim Ferlo, one of our Pennsylvania state representatives has introduced a bill, PA SB 1085, creating a universal healthcare, single-payer system for the state of Pennsylvania, which unlike the one passed in Massachusetts, removes insurance companies from the healthcare system.
I’m very excited about these initiatives. Even though I am on Medicare, and theoretically, have nothing to worry about, I think our healthcare system is awful. I have few dealings with doctors, but each encounter, usually for preventative services, leaves me angry and unhappy. I don’t think a single-payer system is necessarily a cure-all, but it would free up doctors and nurses to practice medicine instead of worrying about insurance red tape.
www.healthcare-now.org has information on their website along with a petition you can send to your representative.
Our current healthcare system is not only bad for our health it is deleterious to the health of our entire economy.
- Business cannot plan ahead because they don’t know how much their healthcare costs will rise from one year to the next.
- Unemployment rates increase because employers want each worker to work longer hours, even where they have to pay time and a half, so they won’t have to pay benefits to additional people. Or they keep people on a contractor or part-time basis.
- People are forced to remain in unwanted jobs in order to maintain their health insurance.
- Entrepreneurs are unable to start new business because they can’t get health insurance.
- Trained medical personnel find it easier and more profitable to become insurance plan administrators than to continue providing needed services.
On June 7, 06-07-06, from noon to one o’clock, there will be rallies around the country. Here in Pittsburgh meet at Highmark, 120 Fifth Ave. It’s time to stand up and be counted.