WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party called for national support for legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) for a single-payer national health system (Medicare For All) and urged Congress to reject Republican and Democratic plans to scale back Medicare.
"The Sanders bill does what needs to be done -- it eliminates the control by health insurance companies over our medical care," said Dr. John Battista, former Green candidate for state representative in Connecticut and co-author of his state's single-payer legislation in 1999 (the Connecticut Health Care Security Act). "Insurance companies pad the cost of health care by as much as 31% for profits, CEO salaries, and other unnecessary overhead such as managing care, while restricting and denying care to make even more money. As a result, over 45 million Americans have no coverage, millions more have inadequate coverage, and the US has the most expensive, least cost-effective health system of all industrial democracies in the world. For-profit health care has consistently been shown to result in poorer quality health care, and should be abolished, not subsidized. International experience shows that single-payer improves health care while reducing costs, eliminating managed care, and providing increased access."
Greens emphasized that Medicare For All would provide every American with quality health care regardless of ability to pay, employment, age, or prior medical condition. It provides full choice of physician and hospital and prevents people from going into financial ruin because of a medical emergency. It would boost the economy by relieving businesses of the burden of providing health care benefits. Overhead and administration costs would be dramatically reduced from their current levels of at least 25% to Medicare's current 3%.
"It's significant that Medicare For All has been introduced in 2011 by someone in the US Senate who is outside the two major parties -- Sen. Sanders, an independent. Americans who support Medicare For All should vote to elect Green candidates to Congress, since Greens, unlike most Democrats, will not compromise or retreat from a real universal health care bill," said Darryl Moch of the DC Statehood Green Party and the Green Party Black Caucus.
The Green Party's endorsement of Medicare For All reflects support by a majority of Americans for such a program, according to numerous polls (http://pnhp.org/blog/2009/12/09/two-thirds-support-3/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_health_care#Public_opinion_in_the_United_States).
Green Party leaders expressed hope that Americans would reject the Democrats' health care reform bill passed in 2010 ("Obamacare"), which they called a life-support system for the health insurance industry.
"Medicare For All is superior to Obamacare in every way," said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United States. "The 2009-2010 health care debate between Democrats and Republicans turned out to be a dispute over which party could best satisfy the health insurance cartel. Obamacare does very little to stop the skyrocketing cost of health care, and 23 million Americans will still lack coverage. Furthermore, Obamacare's mandates -- an idea borrowed from Republican plans of the 1990s -- require everyone to purchase coverage from private companies, a legally questionable direct public subsidy for corporations."
"Obamacare was designed primarily for the benefit of health insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporate lobbies, which funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks to Democratic as well as Republican campaigns. That's why Sen. Max Baucus [chair of the Senate Finance Committee] declared single-payer 'off the table' during his health care reform roundtables in 2009. We were dismayed to see so many progressive Democrats, who claimed they supported single-payer, turn around and vote yea on the President's bill," said Tamar Yager, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Sen. Sanders' introduction of his Medicare For All bill coincides with efforts by Republicans and by Democrats under White House leadership to scale back and privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. As economist Dean Baker noted (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/26/healthcare-congress), the privatization plan ("The Path to Prosperity") offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would hike costs for seniors and would ultimately become a $30 trillion handout from taxpayers to insurance companies, an expense confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, and would also force as many 44 million poor and disabled Americans off Medicaid during the next decade.
Greens warned that the Obama administration intends to balance the federal budget with cuts that will "slowly strangle Medicare leaving seniors struggling to find physicians able to care for them" ("Republican and Democratic Plans for Medicare and Medicaid Misguided: Push for Privatization Will Accelerate Costs and Deaths, by Dr. Margaret Flowers, Common Dreams, April 27, 2011, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/27-8).
"Cutting waste and profits for insurance companies is a far better solution to the budget deficit than cutting medicare services for seniors," said Mark Dunlea, New York Green and co-chair of Single Payer NY (http://www.singlepayernewyork.org/).