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An email today from a progressive organization confirmed that 76% of Americans prefer single payer health care.  They were asking for money to air an ad that merely told senators that the matter was urgent.

Why not put out an add that explains what single-payer is, just in case the figures are misleading?

Most people know they want health care that covers everyone and is affordable.  Few people know how the single payer version of that would work:

It would mean that insurance companies, which exist to make a profit for their shareholders, would no longer be involved in insuring health.  The government would be responsible for paying health care bills - no profit involved.  Doctors and other health professionals would negotiate their rate of remuneration with the government on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. Same for hospitals.  The government would buy prescription drugs at bulk rates with citizens paying a fraction of what they pay now.

As negotiations drag on and it becomes clear that opponents of "government run health care" are doing everything they can to water down the plan and stall it in Congress, I say the real culprits are the media.  They've had at least two years, since the democratic candidates declared for the presidency, knowing that health care would be high on their agenda if elected, to educate the public about the various types of health care systems that exist around the world.

Michael Moore gave them a great opening with "Sicko".  Even those who recognized its relevance, didn't take up the call.  I have
lived almost half my life in countries that have single-payer health care, mainly France, which, God knows, is heavy on bureaucracy. The health care system has been called the best in the world by the World Health Organization. I can testify to it being readily available, and all-encompassing.  To be sure, everyone pays a hefty but progressive tax to fund health care, but it's an expense that doesn't figure on your budget after that.   It would be unheard up for someone to go bankrupt because of health bills.

Even now, tune in to your favorite - or most reviled - television station.  You'll seek in vain a detailed analysis of single payer - or a discussion between opponents and supporters that provides details as to the crucial difference.

Originally posted to Deena Stryker on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 01:42 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra77, camlbacker

    Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

    by Deena Stryker on Fri Jul 31, 2009 at 01:42:41 PM PDT

  •  Single Payer need not exclude private insurers... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra77, camlbacker

    It would be like public schools, available to all and paid by taxes, where private insurers, or personal doctors would be the equivalent of private prep schools, available to those who can pay the cost.

    This would make basic health care a right, just as education at least through high schools is a defacto right in our country.

    The term Single Payer is actually a poor one.  It need not be an exclusive system, just one that is a right to all.

  •  Single-payer vs ignorance (0+ / 0-)

    To arodb: I like to describe it as "single payer with a robust private option" allowing people to buy additional coverage for private rooms etc. over and above a basic universal high-quality healthcare benefit that everybody gets. This is a fun way to frame it that brings a smile to faces when I describe it this way. People get it instantly. It's very important for some people to feel they have freedom obtain private insurance coverage beyond the mandated universal coverage of single-payer. This is true of Medicare as well where lots of seniors have additional private coverage over and above their Medicare (single-payer) coverage.

    I also find it useful to describe single payer as "publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare" to make clear that private doctors will deliver the care, not the government, and that it is not truly socialism since doctors maintain their autonomous practices, work for themselves and not the government. The same is true of Medicare.

    To Deena: The media is certainly a major culprit by not educating the public. For example, in California the legislature managed to pass a well-designed single-payer bill twice and almost the entire time those bills were being considered, the LA Times only mentioned single-payer 4 major times over a several-year period, to wit: when SB 840 was introduced; when it passed the Legislature and was vetoed by Arnold (both events covered in the same story); when SB 840 was re-introduced in the Legislature; and when it passed and was vetoed by Arnold again. In between these events in the LA Times there was hardly any mention of the single-payer bill, the fact that it was cooking in the legislature, what it meant for the people of California in terms of costs or savings for the state, businesses, individuals and families  except in passing reference and then usually in denigrating quotes by opponents of SP, likening single-payer to socialism or Soviet-style control of healthcare. There was nothing in detail to educate --enlighten -- the public about single-payer in any of the stories including those that reported on the bills' introductions and vetoes. The same was more or less true of other newspapers in the state in other large cities like San Francisco or San Diego, and virtually nothing on TV or radio as well.

    I've been mystified by the refusal of major corporate media to cover non-corporate single-payer. I imagine there's a big conflict of interest in terms of major media's financial portfolios invested in the insurance and drug industries. But any guessing games about this sinister interplay can only lead to the edge of paranoid insanity without some intrepid reporter(s) like a Woodward and Bernstein team who might get under the skin of how this conflict of interest actually operates.

    Oh, but that would mean the newsmedia reporting on itself which it tends not to do. This is one reason we need media reform -- to establish some sort of parallel non-commercial public information system (perhaps paid for by a tax on cable news shows) to educate the public on  single payer and other issues crucial to the public interest.  

    •  Thanks for taking the time (0+ / 0-)

      I tend to be too telegraphic.

      One thing, though: we already have an alternative media.  It's just that few people know about it.

      Listen or see "Democracy Now" available three times a day on public channels and  Pacifica, read "The Nation" or "Mother Jones" talk about the alternative
      media to friends.

      A non-commercial public information system will be difficult to get for the same reason we can't use the word "socialism".

      Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

      by Deena Stryker on Sat Aug 01, 2009 at 08:46:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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