"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including . . . medical care . . ."
Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN on December 10, 1948
Hot topic of the autumn
Editor's Note: Maine AllCare president Dr. Julie Pease recently appeared on Community TV's "This Issue" about the hot topic of the autumn, "Obamacare". In this 28-minute discussion with program host Bruce Gagnon, Dr. Pease provides a clear, factual review of the reasons about why we are where we are in health care reform; and more importantly, how can we make real progress here in Maine toward establishing a universal health system, one that is simple, costs less than what we pay today, yet covers everyone.
Please click here, or on the video frame, and get the real story.
And please write to us, share your thoughts. After watching the program, do you feel informed enough to support the work of Maine AllCare? Would you volunteer at local Maine AllCare sponsored community event? We very much appreciate hearing from YOU.
Gen. Colin Powell calls for universal health care in the U.S.
By Valerie Bauman
Puget Sound Business Journal
Dec. 5, 2013
Former Secretary of State and longtime Republican Colin Powell is calling for a universal health care solution in the U.S.
“We are a wealthy enough country with the capacity to make sure that every one of our fellow citizens has access to quality health care,” he said Thursday at a Seattle fundraiser for prostate cancer. “(Let’s show) the rest of the world what our democratic system is all about and how we take care of all of our citizens."
The retired four-star general, a prostate cancer survivor, spoke at the Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast, organized by UW Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Powell took the opportunity to share some of his own experiences and to publicly call for a health care solution similar to those in Canada, Japan and other countries that have a universal, single-payer system.
In the case of his own cancer diagnosis, he recovered, thanks to what he described as universal health care offered through the U.S. military.
“I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life,” Powell said. “And I don’t see why we can’t do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing.”
He also shared a story about his wife, Alma, who recently had a serious health scare with three aneurysms and a blockage in an artery.
Both he and his wife had swift, effective treatment and never had to fear whether they could afford the care they needed, he said.
Powell compared that to the experience of a woman named Anne who sells him firewood and does work around his yard.
“She and her family live out in the country somewhere, they have very limited means,” he said. “I buy wood from her every year. I’ve got about four years worth of wood out in the back yard. I can’t resist her, and she needs the money.”
About three weeks ago she came to his door, and when he told her he had no work for her, she asked him for help paying for a health crisis.
Even though she had insurance, it wouldn’t cover MRIs she needed before doctors would perform surgery to treat a growth in her brain. Powell gave the woman the money, and she’s receiving treatment now.
“After these two events, of Alma and Anne, I’ve been thinking, why is it like this?” Powell said. “Every country I’ve visited, every developed country, they have universal health care. They don’t understand why the United States of America, which uses more health care than just about anybody else, still (has) 40 million people not properly insured.”
“I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen,” Powell said. “Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”
Valerie Bauman covers health care and the marijuana industry for the Puget Sound Business Journal.
From Around the World
A November 2013 health systems survey of 11 industrialized countries, from Austria to Australia, was completed by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation working towards high performance health systems. They found that American adults are more likely to forego health care because of cost than people living in the other countries surveyed.
Some of the key findings include:
37 percent of U.S. adults skipped care,
23 percent had medical bill problems,
and 41 percent spent $1,000 or more out-of-pocket on care in the last year. These figures compare very unfavorably with those of the United Kingdom and Sweden where as few as 4 percent to 6 percent experienced cost related difficulties. For more key findings as well as the complete report please click here.
This survey is very useful in helping readers better understand the similarities and differences between the various industrialized nations' health care systems, including their major components, such as method of financing, coverage, role of government vs insurance companies, cost sharing, low income exemptions and others. You can download the Full Report free of charge here by scrolling to the bottom of the page, and click on "Downloads".
Maine AllCare on the RADIO
Dr. Caper's Bangor Daily News articles are read around the world. Here is an interview with Ryan Dawson, host and producer of an internet-based radio show out of Osaka, Japan. The topic: the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act within the context of the 'medical-industrial complex', and why we need a better solution. Recorded on November 4, 2013, it is frank and informative discussion.
As the implementation turmoil continues to swirl around the Affordable Care Act, radio station KPFK Los Angeles with host Ian Masters is providing meaningful analysis to a national listening audience. His October 21st program, Background Briefing with Ian Masters, featured Dr. Phil Caper of Maine AllCare in a 20-minute segment based on Dr. Caper's September 19th Bangor Daily News article, The high cost of complexity in health care reform. It's a great interview that provides an informative backstory to how we got "Obamacare", and perhaps more importantly, how we can continue, both as a state and as a nation, toward real universal health care financing reform. It's worth hearing.
On October 23rd Dr Caper was also interviewed by Jeff Blankfort of KZYX community radio in Mendocino County, California. Another excellent source of information about the economic merits of continuing the reform effort toward Medicare for All. Please click here for the program, "Takes on the World."
On October 30th Dr. Caper was invited by the financialsurvivalnetwork.com radio host Kerry Lutz, an attorney and strong free market advocate, to discuss our health care system. They both agreed that it is indeed broken, and something more fundamental than the Affordable Care Act – more simple and truly universal – must be brought about in order to cover everyone. In addition to the obvious problems of the new health care law roll-out, they discussed the FDA's role in testing new drugs and unreasonably high drug prices in the U.S., the wisdom of medical marihuana use, the idea of sick care versus prevention, and the drive for ever greater profits by corporate providers at the expense of patients, among other topics. The program is a great tutorial for anyone interested in making our health care universally available and affordable. Please click on this link for this timely discussion on WBZT in West Palm Beach FL, then click on blue ". . . Listen to the Audio" text under "Dr. Philip Caper – Medicare for All: the Only Way To Health Care For Everyone."
Hot off the press! Bangor Daily News poll responders say YES to universal health care
Well over two thirds of the readers who responded to the newspaper's October 14th online poll support universal health care – this is what Maine AllCare is working to achieve here in our state. Please consider supporting our advocacy by subscribing to our periodic informational emails, host an informational event in your community and Maine AllCare will provide the speaker(s), just send us a note about your idea. Of course, your tax deductible contributions are always welcome. It easy, simply click on the Donate button in the menu bar of maineallcare.org. Let's keep this positive message of "health care for everyone in Maine" growing. Thank you.
Health reform’s problems run deeper than a glitchy website
By Philip Caper
Special to the BDN
November 14, 2013
Serious problems with the websites created by the Affordable Care Act continue, and probably will for a long time. Although frantic efforts at incrementally improving them are being made by the Obama administration, and some sites are working better than others, they are a long way from working well.
As I’ve written before, the causes of the website’s problems are far more serious than poor software design. They are baked into the law by its extreme complexity.
There is growing frustration and anger at the administration in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans. Much of it is being expressed by the same people whose hypocrisy and obstructionism is responsible for a failure to do the right thing in the first place. Calls from members of Congress to delay the ACA’s implementation or to repeal it entirely will intensify.
Instead of expanding our existing Medicare program, which has been working well for almost 50 years and is our country’s most efficient and least intrusive health care financing program, the ACA creates complex new law that perpetuates and reinforces the chaos and confusion of our hodgepodge of public and private insurance programs. Coverage and financial assistance continue to depend on an individual’s employment status, income, place of residence, age, conjectures about future health status, and many other factors, some of them subject to change with little or no warning and many impossible to predict.
Smooth implementation of the ACA depends upon the ability of many parts of government and thousands of insurance companies to seamlessly communicate with one another and agree on data drawn from myriad different public and private sources. Some in the health insurance field believe such a task will be difficult or impossible to achieve.
We have to ask ourselves, who are the winners from requiring us to go through the expense and confusion inherent in trying to implement a law of over 2,000 pages? The answer is clear. It’s a health insurance industry that profits from complexity and confusion, and providers of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, devices and services who benefit excessively from the very weak cost controls inherent in our fragmented system of paying for services.
The losers are all the rest of us. The ACA’s objective, access to health care for all Americans, could have been accomplished much more easily with far less confusion, expense and complexity.
I talk to a lot of people from across the political spectrum about health care reform. There is a growing consensus that improved Medicare for all is the necessary first step in repairing our badly broken health care system.
During a trip to California last week, I ran into House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. When I explained to her that while I admired her efforts to reform our health care system, I remain an advocate for “Improved Medicare for All,” she responded, “Yes, we should have done single payer.”
Perhaps there’s still hope. Between Harry Reid’s recent comments and Pelosi’s epiphany, there seems to be a growing understanding of the problem, and its solution, in some parts of Congress.
But first, we will have to get rid of the obstructionist politicians whose only interest seems to be in preserving a health insurance industry that has become one of the most destructive forces in American society.
That task is up to us.
Physician Philip Caper of Brooklin is a founding board member of Maine AllCare, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to making health care in Maine universal, accessible and affordable for all. He can be reached at email@example.com