Sunday, January 11, 2009

HEALTHCARE BEAT

Molly M. Ginty, WeNews - A 2004 Archives of Internal Medicine survey showed 63 percent of doctors believe a single-payer system would provide the best care for the most people. A 2007 CNN poll showed 64 percent of Americans believe "the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans even if this would require higher taxes."

During his campaign, Obama pledged to preserve the employer-based private insurance system and create a stopgap federal program to cover the uninsured. He is also expected to give serious consideration to a proposal by Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., for mandatory insurance with private companies competing alongside a new Medicare-type program. . .

Supporters of a single-payer system propose two possible funding methods. One would be a 3.3 percent payroll tax and a reversal of President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. Another would be to rely on payroll taxes of 8.17 percent for employers and 3.78 percent for employees. Advocates say that, despite additional taxes, a single-payer system would save citizens money.

Conyers' bill has been endorsed by only 93 of 535 members of Congress. Fourteen national labor groups and 20 health and civic groups, including the National Organization for Women and the Coalition of Labor Union Women, both in Washington, have lined up behind it. With Obama slated to take office in nine days, Conyers has pledged to hold hearings on his proposal in the House Committee on the Judiciary, which he chairs. . .

The mixed system of private and public medicine in the United States spends $7,026 per person on health care annually, while countries with single-payer systems spend an average $3,840, reports the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. A single-payer system would save $350 billion in annual paperwork, enough savings to provide care to all without costing more, reports Physicians for a National Health Program. . .

Under Medicare, a single-payer system is already in place for U.S. citizens who are over age 65 or who have permanent disabilities. The Medicare program spends 3 percent of its revenue on administrative costs, while private insurers spend 30 percent or 10 times as much, according to the Chicago-based American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.

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