Medicare for All!!
Paul Y. Song, MD
Physicians for a National Health Program
Hippocratic Oath
“I will follow that system of regimen, which
according to my ability and judgment, I consider
for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from
whatever is deleterious and mischievous”.
The Problem
The US spends $2.5 Trillion a year which is 17.3% of our
GDP on healthcare and more than any other industrialized
country in the world by far.
The CBO estimates it will grow to 25% of our GDP by 2025.
The average family premium is $14,000 a year.
17% of American income now goes to pay for health care.
75 million Americans are underinsured.
The number of uninsured in the US now exceeds 50.7
million and has actually increased since the passage of the
healthcare bill.
Broken System??
The Commonwealth Fund 6/23/10
Millions of Uninsured Americans
51 Million Americans
Without Insurance Today
Source: Himmelstein, Woolhandler, Carrasquilo
– Tabulation from CPS and NHIS data
Who are the Uninsured?
WORKER 66.5%
the 50.7 million, over 20 million are fully employed and
Urban families
Institute and with
Kaiser Commission
on Medicaid
and the Uninsured
70% of all uninsured are from
one or more
estimates based on the Census Bureau's March 2008 and 2009 Current
Population Survey (CPS: Annual Social and Economic Supplements).
Uninsured Deaths
 50,000
annual deaths are
attributed simply to a lack of
Medical Related Bankruptcies
Number of medical related bankruptcies
increased 50% during the last 9 years.
In 2011, it is estimated that there will be over 4
million bankruptcies.
- 2/3 are due to a medical illness.
Most of the Medically Bankrupt
Had Insurance Coverage
Insurance at
onset of
Source: Himmelstein et al. Am J Med, Aug. 2009
Hard for Employers Too!
For every $100 that US companies spend on
health care, companies in Japan, Germany,
France, and Canada spend 63 cents which leads
to more off-shoring of jobs and less job creation.
Ford spent $3.2 Billion on health premiums; Prior
to the bailout, GM spent more on health
premiums than on steel.
It is estimated that health care costs add $15002000 to the sticker price of a US made car.
The For-Profit Insurance Industry is
Not Your Friend!
Take 31 cents out of every dollar away from actual patient care.
Increase overall health care costs by discouraging people from
receiving preventative care and by driving the sick into more
expensive care settings
1/6 of all policies are actually grossly inadequate to cover a
serious illness.
70% of losses (money paid out in claims) goes to cover about
10% of their subscribers creating a powerful incentive to screen
subscribers and harass them to drop their coverage and go
They encourage higher deductibles and co-pays by increasing
premiums to insure they cover very little.
The For-Profit Insurance Industry is
Not Your Friend!
Over the past 9 years:
Only recession proof industry that consistently raises prices 1015% every year regardless of the economy. Far outpacing
Average premiums have increased nearly 120%
– Profits at the 10 largest publicly traded insurance companies
have rose 428% (reported).
– Average annual CEO salary at these companies was $11.9
Million which is 468 times what the average US worker makes.
– In CA, the six largest insurers denied over 45.7 million claims
in the last six years.
CEO Salaries (2008)
Roy Williams – CEO Aetna - $ 24,300,122
H. Edward Hanway – Cigna - $ 12,236740
Angela Bray – Wellpoint - $ 9,844,212
Dale Wolf – Coventry Healthcare - $ 9,047,469
Michael Niedorff –Centene - $ 8,744, 483
James Carlson – Amerigroup - $ 5,292,546
Michael McAllister – Humana - $ 4,764,309
Jay Gellert – Health Net - $ 4,425,355
Steven Helmsley – United Health Group - $ 3,241,042
Billy Tauzin – CEO PhRMA - $2,000,000
Karen Ignani – Amer. Health Insurance Plans - $ 1,580,000
Whenever profits are not enough, patients get crucified!!
Anthem Blue Cross proposed 39% rate increases in 2010.
Blue Shield of California proposed to raise health insurance rates a
whopping 59% for individual policyholders in 2011, saying the increase is
“absolutely necessary” to deal with rising health care costs and
restrictions in the new health care law.
Insurance Industry Efforts
4525 lobbyists for the 535 Congressional
members (8:1) – 450 lobbyists are former
congressional staffers and 12 were former Max
Baucus Staffers.
$1.4 Million was spent each day!!
$260+ Million was spent by the health insurance
industry and big Pharma – more than on the 2004
Bush-Kerry presidential campaign.
Insurance stocks hit a 52 week high once there
was no public option.
June 17, 2009 – As 22 Senators began hearings and work on
healthcare reform, the room was full of registered healthcare
Easy to Blame the GOP, but…
The Democrats had a supermajority for most of
the debate.
60% of all money went to Democrats.
Max Baucus (Chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee) received over $2 million.
Ben Nelson received more money from the health
insurance industry than any other industry.
Joe Lieberman received over $1 million and his
wife was employed by several healthcare and
Pharma companies.
Arguments Against Reform
“Will explode the deficit!”
Nixon/Ford: 6.8%
per year
Carter: 2.0% per
Reagan: -1.3%
per year
Bush 1: 4.0% per
Clinton: 2.5% per
Bush Jr: 8.2% per
Arguments Against Reform
“Will explode the deficit!”
 “This is the largest government run health
care program ever”.
Originally passed in 2004 at a projected cost of
$400B over 10 years, some estimates suggest
it will cost over $900 Billion.
Passed by a GOP controlled house and senate
led by then Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La) who left
immediately after its passage to become the
head of PhRMA.
Arguments Against Reform
“Will explode the deficit!”
“This is the largest government run health
care program ever”.
“Socialized medicine”
“If you don’t stop Medicare and I don’t do it, one of
These Days, you and I are going to spend our sunset
years telling our children, and our children’s children
what it once was like In America when men
were free”
- Ronald Regan 1961
Socialized Medicine was popularized by a public relations firm working for the American Medical
Association in 1947 to disparage President Truman's proposal for a national health care system.
It was a label, at the dawn of the cold war, meant to suggest that anybody advocating universal
access to health care must be a communist.
And the phrase has retained its political power for six decades.
The original meaning of “socialized medicine” was confined to systems in which the
government owns and operates health care facilities and employs
health care professionals, support staff, and all ancillary workers.
England, Germany, Israel, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, France, Canada, Taiwan,
Japan all have “socialized medicine”.
October 22, 2009 - Veterans Health Care Budget Reform
And Transparency Act
More than 1400 hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, 14,800 doctors, 61,000 nurses , and 5 million
Rand Corporation found that 67% of veterans received appropriate care compared to 55% for the
general public.
University of Michigan study found 83% satisfaction for Veterans compared to 73% for general
Let the Free Market Rule!
There currently is no free market! Only two industries in the
US have antitrust exemptions – Major League Baseball and
The Health Insurance Industry.
There has been heavy consolidation and near monopolies
established in the past 10 years.
One or two insurers generally control the top 94
metropolitan areas in the US.
In some states like Alabama, 90% have Blue Cross.
By allowing insurers to sell across state lines, patient
protections will be reduced due to variations between
So What Did We End Up With?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
not Obamacare.
It is not socialized medicine or a government
takeover of medicine.
There are no death panels.
CBO estimates it will cost $940 Billion over the
first 10 years.
Majority of the provisions will not begin until
Impact of Health Reform
On the Uninsured
Less uninsured Americans
• 46 million today; ~23 million in 2019
Less funding for safety net hospitals
• Medicare funding cut by $36 billion through 2019
Community health center funding enhanced
• Increased by $1 billion annually
Problems With the Reform Bill
$475 Billion subsidy to the insurance industry
that forces 30 Million Americans to buy coverage
from these companies that do not care about
23 Million people will still be uninsured nine years
from now.
Millions of middle income people will be forced to
buy commercial policies costing up to 9.5% of
their income, but covering only 70% of their
medical expenses, leaving them still very
vulnerable to medical related bankruptcies due to
high deductibles and co-pays which will still be
Problems With the Reform Bill
While Insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage or
set maximum caps, they will still be able to increase copays, deductibles, and premiums which will only serve to
preclude access to healthcare.
Enforcement of new regulations such as ending denials on
the basis of pre-existing conditions are riddled with
loopholes and waivers, and there is nothing to prevent older
people or women from being charged more based on age or
gender until 2017.
– HHS has already scaled back rules on health insurance appeal
denials making the process even more difficult for patients!
People with employer based coverage will remain locked in
their plans and have no choice of providers or hospitals. No
competition for most of us!
Medicare – A Single Payer System!!
Established in 1965 when only 56% of adults over 65 years
of age were insured.
Prior to Medicare, 1/3 of all seniors were living in poverty.
Commonwealth Fund Study (5/09) – Medicare patients had
much greater satisfaction, better access to care, and fewer
billing problems than those with employer sponsored plans.
Kaiser Family foundation study showed greater overall
satisfaction and much more cost efficiency than private
insurance companies.
Medicare spends approximately 3.6% on administrative
costs and 96.4% on actual patient care!
Patients have greater choice and do not need preauthorizations.
Medicare – A Single Payer System!!
The government does not tell doctors how to practice, what
tests to order, which hospitals to go to, or what medications
to prescribe.
It is the private insurance companies that tell patients who
to see, where to go, and what doctors can do.
Since 2008, more providers are dropping more patients with
private non capitated insurance than patients with
A Few Sick People Drive Most Costs
Percentage of total health spending in 2001
Top two deciles
account for 78.3%
of spending
Decile of privately insured
Source: MEPS data, from Thorpe and Reinhart
Current Medicare Has Limitations
Medicare doesn’t cover everything – 45% of outpatient mental
health services, no dental coverage.
Medicare Part B which covers doctors’ services generally pays for
80% of all reasonable charges, leaving seniors responsible for the
remaining 20% which can be very expensive when dealing with a
life threatening or serious illness.
Medicare is fully privatized and there is no price negotiations for
bulk purchasing.
Without PPACA, Medicare is forecast to be bankrupt by 2016.
Due to the anticipated savings due to PPACA of more than $120
Billion, Medicare should now be insolvent in 2024.
In 1999, the Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare
predicted that Medicare would be bankrupt by 2008.
“I think very likely what the president intends is that
Medicare will go broke and ultimately that answer will
be Obamacare for senior citizens”
- Michele Bachmann 8/25/09
Private insurers waste 31 cents of
every dollar on overhead, sales
and marketing, lobbying, billing,
underwriting, and exorbitant
executive compensation.
This waste is now estimated to be
over $400 Billion a year!!
Administrators Are Growing
Faster Than Physicians
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; NCHS; Himmelstein/Woolhandler
analysis of CPS
Single Payer System
Single payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted
money and provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without
paying more than we already do.
Would be financed by eliminating private insurance and
recapturing their administrative waste.
Modest new taxes would replace premiums and costs would be
controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting, and bulk
Unified risk pool – everybody in, nobody out, continuous which
would provide a new financial solvency to Medicare!!
Everybody contributes to fund health care based on ability to pay.
Transparency and Accountability to the public
We can save over $4 Trillion in the next 10 years with a Medicare
for All program.
Covering Everyone and
Saving Money
Additional costs
Covering the uninsured and poorly-insured
Elimination of cost-sharing and co-pays
Bulk purchasing of drugs & equipment
Reduced hospital administrative costs
Reduced physician office costs
Reduced insurance administrative costs
Primary care emphasis & reduce fraud
- 3.6%
Net (Savings)
Source: Health Care for All Californians Plan,
Lewin Group, 2005
Single Payer System
Physicians would still be able to practice medicine the way they
think is best, but with far less paperwork and administrative
Average private practice currently spend about 25% on
administrative costs. This would save about $70,000 a year.
All medically necessary care is covered. Patients would have
choice of physician and treatment.
Strong emphasis on comprehensive, focused, and preventative
care in a timely manner.
Would lead to higher wages as employers would not have to pay
for healthcare premiums.
Would lead to more capital investments by companies.
CA Nurses Association study found it would create 2.6 Million new
jobs and infuse $317 Billion in new business revenue.
Patients would not feel trapped in their current jobs due to the
fear of losing their health care coverage.
Patients have unlimited choice of physicians, hospitals, and
clinics regardless of location
USNHI will cover all medically necessary services, including:
preventative care
primary care
inpatient hospital care
outpatient care
emergency care
prescription drugs
durable medical equipment
long term care
mental health services
eye care
substance abuse treatment
Single Payer System
HR 676 – Expanded and Improved
Medicare Act for All - Conyers (now with
64 co-sponsors)
California SB 810 – Mark Leno
To ensure that all people living in the United
State have:
A single standard of high-quality, affordable
health care guaranteed by federal law
Access to health care services whenever
medical attention is needed
Who is Eligible?
Every person living in the United States is
eligible from birth throughout life
Every person living in the United States
and the U.S. Territories would receive a
United States National Health Insurance
Card & ID number once enrolled
Accessing Healthcare Services
Under H.R. 676
All patients are presumed eligible to receive services,
even if not carrying card at time of need
Patients will be able to seek treatment from the
physician, clinic or hospital of their choice
Growing Physician Support for NHI
Surveys of Random Samples of U.S. Physicians, 2002 & 2007
Support NHI, 2007
Support NHI, 2002
No, 32%
No, 40%
Source: Carroll & Ackerman, Ann Int Med 2008;148:566
We Have What it Takes!
•Excellent hospitals, empty beds
•Well-trained professionals
•Superb research
•Current spending is sufficient

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