EVENT: National Medicare For All Discussion

Saturday, MARCH 30
National Medicare For All
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Sanctuary
2333 San Juan ~ Port Townsend
Hosted by: National Nurses United and Olympic Peninsula Progressives

Guest Speakers:
 Rick Doherty, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.M.G. Retired Medical School Professor, Medical and Molecular Geneticist, Toxicologist, Physician

Craig Ritchie J.D., BPharm, former Sequim City Attorney, former Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney, Instructor in Pharmacy Law, Licensed Pharmacist

Former Aetna medical director admits to never reviewing medical records before denying care. -Forbes

This is something that has been suspected by care providers for some time. Now the proof has come out in court.

One of the dirty medical secrets that you likely aren’t aware of, is that your Physician, Physician Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner may spend far longer than they spend with you, fighting for your right to get your care that they prescribe from your insurance company. Sometimes it means they lose money on the time they spent with you as it could mean hours on the phone and time spent sending records over to them for supposed review. Sometimes it may mean that one is turned down for coverage for a life threatening illness. Sometimes people die because of it. Sometimes they have to shift to care that may not be optimal, from the perspective of your provider.

Now, in court, a former Aetna medical director admits that he never even looked at the medical records of people who he denied coverage to, relying on nurses employed by the company to determine the validity of the requested coverage. Why this is possible is outrageus, and it flips the old claim we heard from Republicans in the 90s against then First Lady Hilary Clinton, that her proposals for healthcare reform were going to lead to “death panels”. So Clinton’s ideas failed, and we carried on with for profit insurance companies who apparently don’t even need a panel, but entrust life or death decisions to unskilled bureaucratic workers.

The Democrats, today, rolled out their plan for Medicare for All. There is much to debate in this plan, but the goal is to end at some point in the future, the out of control pricing and unregulated nature of the decision making at these corporate companies, many of whom have made their CEOs enormously rich by denying care to those that need it most. Let me remind anyone that is not aware of it, but the U.S. citizen pays far more and gets much worse outcomes than any other industrialized country in the world. While moving to a new system it may *raise our taxes* it may also *reduce your healthcare costs that you pay monthly*. If you could do away with your $500 a month or more you and your family pay for insurance coverage, and get coverage for $25 more in taxes, why would you say no? (The number $25 is just a straw dog). There is also a proposal that the taxes needed for this plan will come from taxing the wealthiest 1%.

I for one am willing to explore this and see exactly how much more I will have to pay for government run healthcare, if anything at all. Under the plan, you will still get to see your favorite doctor, and we will need to train hundreds of thousands of more new providers, but this current system is out of control, prices are vastly too high, and now, we see that they are not even concerned about whether we live or die, just that we pay them their monthly fees.

Want to do something about it? First off, make sure you are not investing in these companies. Cut off their investments by requesting an end to financial support for them in the stock market. Secondly, call your State and Federal congresspeople, demanding that our Insurance Commissioner investigate these companies. At the federal level they need to launch an investigation into this practice as well.


Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All’ – NY Times

The knives are out. This is what we are up against in order to get real change in healthcare. But in one area I find myself in agreement with an argument against Medicare for All. The crux of one major issue is buried deep in the story.

Some members of the coalition have financial as well as philosophical reasons for resisting the push to expand Medicare. Doctors and hospitals say Medicare generally pays less than private insurance, and hospitals say the payments frequently do not cover the costs of providing care to Medicare patients.

“Chronic underpayment to providers creates access issues for seniors, particularly with physicians, who may limit the number of Medicare patients they see,” said Richard J. Pollack, the president of the American Hospital Association. Congress, he said, often makes changes in Medicare for reasons that have nothing to do with sound health policy — to offset the costs of tax cuts, for example.

This is a real issue, one that I hear from providers as a substantial problem for them. It has contributed to a decreasing base of providers that are willing to take Medicaid and Medicare patients. If we put everyone on Medicare without fixing the reimbursement problems, it will simply have the unintended consequence of driving more primary care doctors out of business, or into the hospitals. Today 40% of doctors work for hospitals which is up dramatically over the last few decades. Hospital care is more expensive than independent physicians.

Also, as I have pointed out elsewhere, not all doctors take Medicare! Even the ACA has numerous plans and many doctors, because the administrative cost is so high to take lots of programs, only take a couple of the various plans. So patients don’t have the flexibility that Medicare for All seems to promise. Add to that that Medicare doesn’t cover everything, it leads to wealthier patients getting better care and Medicare only patients sometimes getting none at all. Yes. That is one of the reasons why Medicare supplemental coverage exists.

So while politicians like Bernie and Warren use this as a campaign slogan, the critics of it will be beating the drum as we go into the election, using tens of millions of dollars to counter it and this issue could be the deciding factor in States that swung the election last time! It’s time we stopped just shouting campaign slogans and came up with something that could provide everyone decent healthcare as Canada does, while fixing issues like provider reimbursal rates and the shortage of physicians in this country in general.

NY Times today.

Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All’

Insulin prices skyrocketing -Washington Post

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the issues of skyrocketing insulin prices. If you are a Jefferson or Clallam County resident and having a hard time affording your insulin, I would like to know. Would like to look at the scope of the problem here in on the Peninsula.  Contact me at Al_inPT@outlook.com