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What on earth are American businesspeople thinking?  Why aren’t employers fighting for a real alternative to this ineffective and inefficient system of employer-based healthcare?  As we see in the news today, the broken health care system leads to labor unrest and an unsustainable squeeze on small businesses.  On a broader scale, it is decimating (has decimated?) American manufacturing, makes the US less competitive internationally, and could save employers in just one state--Connecticut--$590 Million.  Given that, why on earth would businesses support expanding the employment link to health care (with "employer mandates") or maintaining it (with "individual mandates")?  They are letting an out-of-control insurance sector eat up all their profits, and make their employees sick and poor.  Don’t they care???

This country needs a visionary business leader to stand and deliver the economic/business case for single-payer healthcare, which will make us all healthier and wealthier.  If you have any ideas on how to find her or him, let me know!

Brought to you by the National Nurses Organizing Committee as we organize to make 2007 the Year of Single-Payer Healthcare.

Most of the nastiest battles between business and workers in recent memory have centered around healthcare. It’s back—as California grocery chains try to cut off benefits for their low-paid employees, and those employees try to protect themselves.  The grocery store owners say they’re worried about competitors like CostCo; well then, why aren’t they fighting for single-payer?

Non-union small business also struggle with the skyrocketing health insurance premiums, as this opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle describes.

{The author’s husband} is paying $3,400 each month for insurance just for his three employees. (He gets his own health insurance through me.) This costs him $41,000 per year, about what he would pay to hire another person. Even at this rate, his employees still have co-pays for all doctor's services, and must shoulder 10 to 30 percent of the cost of medical procedures and hospitalizations. The insurance companies give no reason for the increase.
My husband's choices are to keep the same plan and somehow swallow a 15 percent increase to $48,000 per year, or decrease the business's cost by shifting more of the cost to his employees, one of whom has a wife with multiple sclerosis. "Isn't there something else I can do?" he asks. "At this rate, I might have to let go of one employee just to keep health insurance for the other two."

What’s he going to do?  Advocate for single-payer while hoping to not go bankrupt?  Well, that’s what he’s doing.  In the meantime, if the insurance companies do force him into bankruptcy, we have four jobs lost and three families without healthcare.

As I mentioned yesterday, a new Connecticut commission found that if the state moved to a single-payer system, employers would save $590 million dollars—IN JUST THE FIRST YEAR.  They’re turning down free money!

An article from In These Times a couple years ago shows GM Canada laughing all the way to the bank while GM US is being bankrupted by its antiquated healthcare system:

"The Canadian plan has been a significant advantage for investing in Canada," says GM Canada spokesman David Patterson, noting that in the United States, GM spends $1,400 per car on health benefits. Indeed, with the provinces sharing 75 percent of the cost of Canadian healthcare, it’s no surprise that GM, Ford and Chrysler have all been shifting car production across the border at such a rate that the name "Motor City" should belong to Windsor, not Detroit.

And Morton Mintz in the Nation in 2004 laid out all the reasons American businesses would profit from single-payer healthcare, concluding:

By resisting the merger of practicality with morality that universal health care embodies, Corporate America is blowing a supreme opportunity to do well by doing good. Enlightened self-interest this is not.

There's a reason every single other developed country in the world enjoys a single-payer health system: it's good for everybody.  Are American businesspeople unable to see this becuase of ideology, fear, ignorance, lack of imagination, or something else?  I don't know.  But here’s my crusade today—if you’re a businessperson advocating single-payer health insurance, contact me: spreston@calnurses.org.  Let’s work together.  The nation needs you, and so does your business.

Oh and about those half-hearted reform plans that foolish businesses are supporting in states around the country?   Matthew Yglesias in the American Prospect eviscerates them today, calling for us to start expanding Medicare as soon as we can, as part of a strategy of,

"the step-by-step defunding of the health-industrial complex that does so much to provide financial support for reactionary politics in America. The alternative -- sticking progressive necks out for the opportunity to direct customers to an insurance industry that hates us -- doesn't make sense."

If you want to join the fight for single-payer healthcare, sign up with SinglePayer.com, a project of the National Nurses Organizing Committee.  You can share your story about surviving the healthcare industry here, and start contacting media here.

Originally posted to California Nurses Shum on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 01:40 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why? Perhaps its that... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, rapala, LillithMc, Chacounne

    The execs of business and insurance:
    Went to the same schools.
    Join the same fraternities.
    Join the same country clubs.
    Live in the same gated communities.

    It's the I'll scratch your back, you'll scratch mine world of the living in the unreal world of ultra wealth.

    I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell... Dixie Chicks

    by UndercoverRxer on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 01:54:08 PM PST

      •  It's Easier to Crush Employees (4+ / 0-)

        Than to crush the insurance lobby.

        Just strip your employees of the benefit - problem solved.  

        I haven't been offered a job with healthcare benefits in over 5 years, and I'm a white collar professional.  Employer-provided health care is simply disappearing and people are expected to pay an amount approaching their mortgage payment every month to stave off the threat of medical bankruptcy.  And as we now know, even then you'd be lucky not to go bankrupt if you got seriously ill.

        This country is utterly fucked.

    •  No, it's not really that. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldjohnbrown, rapala, UndercoverRxer

      Small business owners, like myself, are not in the same club as the "big guys". And overwhelmingly small business does support a single insurer plan. But we have just about as much, or less, voice in government as the average person so there's not much we can do that you can'd do as well. A little more maybe through associations and Rotary Clubs (for what's that worth) but we have no real voice beyond the ballot.

      The "big guys"; the industrial concerns, energy comapanies, etc. want it to stay as exactly as things are, since they can plead poverty and reduce benefits without paying the higher taxes that I would welcome. The vast majority of employers in this country are in my boat -- they have a commitment to providing care to the people we work with intimitely every day and can't, for whatever reason, condone reducing that commitment.But my premiums went up 15% this year! I pay over $40,000 now and I have a tiny office. Nobody wants to listen to that though, since our system is predicated on people working for the GMs and the Exxons.

  •  benefits of single-payer could not be clearer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, rapala, UndercoverRxer

    thanks for an intimate look at real small businesses in america.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by MarketTrustee on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:04:42 PM PST

  •  15% annually (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, rapala, UndercoverRxer
    is, alas, totally ordinary.

    The Joy(tm) of Small Business Health Insurance

    The CPI may be at only a couple percent, but it doesn't include the two biggest expenses for most households: housing, and insurance, both of which have been clipping along in the double digits for several years.

    Bush's "gold plated" plan cutoff will be below the cost of an average plan in just two years with these rates of increase.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 02:17:32 PM PST

  •  Most businesses are fighting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, Allamakee Democrat

    for some alternative to what we have now.  The issue for them is more a matter of cost certainty, though they would certainly like to get rid of the cost entirely.  Profitability knows no loyalty, and industry is starting to react, albeit slowly.

  •  Bills moving forward in Washington State (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, rapala

    That would allow for single payer.
    For more info

    Check out www.americasolidarity.org

    by IvyTodd on Wed Jan 31, 2007 at 03:00:03 PM PST

  •  Let's hear it for socialized medicine. (0+ / 0-)

    Health care is the 800 pound gorilla pounding on the door of American politics.

    Even Republicans are terrified of what is certain to happen; they are already regretting their decision to forbid Medicare to negotiate pharmacutical discounts.

    Democrats are terrified the meltdown will occur during their tenure.

    The Veterans system has demonstrated remarkable efficiency at controlling costs while delivering high-quality care, much to the Republicans' discomfort. I gather they were planning to gut the VA system this Congress, just to make sure the people did not hear that 'socialized medicine' can work.

    Insurance companies spend 10% of their income NOT paying valid charges, while hospitals and clinics spend a great deal just getting what they can get out of the insurance companies.

    The biggest change has to be the way hospitals are funded. Essentially, a combination of Federal, state, local and private money would pay for all the overhead (capital costs, employee payrolls, etc). While a hospital stay might not necessarily be 'free', the costs would be radically less than they are now. This would include expensive 'outpatient facilities' such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation, or dialysis clinics.

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