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Demand a single-payer health system

caduceusNow more than ever, the need for real health care reform is urgent.  For one reason or another, many have compromised their demand for a national single-payer system.  Like President Obama, there’s a kind of collective acquiescence to incremental reform that holds up Massachusetts’ health care system as a model for the nation. 

A report released today by Physicians for a National Health Program  and Public Citizen reveals the failure of the Massachusetts model.  Preserving the private insurance system — which this model does — is not worth the sacrifice of human lives and health.

To advocate a system for the U.S. like the one in place in Massachusetts is to advocate a system that keeps health care a privilege, not a right.  It is to advocate a system that accepts that large numbers of people will remain uninsured.  And it is to advocate throwing away hundreds of billions to administrative costs — money that should be ensuring that all citizens are covered.

How is the Massachusetts model failing?  Ask Ken, who is one among many that this attempt at health care reform harmed more than it helped:

Ken has diabetes and hypertension. Last year he was unemployed and MassHealth covered the full cost of his medications. He is now employed, with private insurance through his employer.  His medication deductible is now $700; after reaching the deductible, he will need to pay 20% of the cost of the medicine.  He works in retail and supports his unemployed wife and five children.  He cannot afford his insulin with his new insurance, so he has stopped it and  his hemoglobin A1C (a measure of diabetes control and a predictor of complications)  has been getting worse.

Ken’s story told to Dr. Rachel Nardin by his physician

See the report on the failure of Massachusetts health care reform and read the letter signed by nearly 500 doctors urging Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) (a self-described “old single-payer advocate”) to introduce legislation into the Senate to complement the House’s proposed single-payer plan, HR 676.

Flickr photo by takomabibelot.