Dr. Jill Stein, the front running Green Party presidential candidate, said today that whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of the insurance mandate of "Obama / Romney care", Americans will still be stuck with an expensive, ineffective health care system that fails to provide quality health care to all Americans.
“As a medical doctor trying to care for people in an increasingly broken system over 25 years, I know that a single payer Medicare for All program is the real solution to the American health care crisis,” stated Stein, a graduate of Harvard Medical School. “President Obama repeatedly admitted this during the health care debate while insisting that single payer was off the table."
Stein added that it is a well-established fact that our complicated health insurance system increases health expenditures by $400 billion annually, saying that, "The mandate that every American buy expensive, inadequate health insurance is a scheme developed by Republicans and foisted on the nation by Democrats. The winners are the health insurance companies. A Stein administration will make health care a right while eliminating the enormous waste, bureaucracy and negative health impacts of the current health insurance mess."
Dr. Stein campaigned for single payer health care she ran against Mitt Romney for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
The federal health insurance law under challenge in the courts will leave more than 26 million uninsured when fully implemented. It will force millions of Americans to buy expensive health insurance that will fail to provide them with the health care they need. Many Americans will still go bankrupt due to high medical bills. The law will do nothing to change the fact that more than 3/4 of Americans who go bankrupt due to health care costs have medical insurance.
Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($8,160 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 51 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.
"Americans spend far more money on health care than other industrial democracies but have a poorly performing health care system, ranked only 37th in the world, due to the cancerous burden of private health insurance. Obama and the Democrats turned their backs on Medicare - a proven solution. Instead they enacted a health insurance mandate whose prime goal will be to increase insurance company profits," noted Stein.
Despite its inadequacies, Stein sees some positive components in the Obama reforms, but she notes that these elements do not actually go into effect until 2014 and is concerned that, “This delay will cost lives.” It is estimated that 45,000 Americans die annually due to lack of health care coverage.
Massachusetts' experiment with insurance mandates, Romney Care, did reduce but did not eliminate the uninsured population in the state. “That so-called ‘reform’ significantly increased under-insurance, increased health care premiums, and created a financial crisis among the state’s safety-net hospitals and community health centers,” Stein said. “Many low-income residents had less access to health care. And the financial burden of the reform has fallen disproportionately on lower-middle-class. This is not the reform we need. A system based on mandates is basically a regressive tax imposed on the middle class in order to support profiteering in the health industry. No other country in the world would tolerate such an abuse of consumers and neither should we.”
Under Obama's health insurance mandate, a family of four with income of $80,000 a year will be forced to purchase health insurance policies that will eat up 9.8 percent of their income -- yet the policy would cover only 70 percent of medical expenses. “This will not only compete with other household necessities but would do virtually nothing to protect people from the financial ruin in the event of serious illness,” Stein explained.
Stein characterized a single payer system by saying “that means that all medical bills get paid under a single streamlined system, similar to Medicare. Everyone would be covered, regardless of employment or medical care status, for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care. All those complicated forms that have to be filled out for the current multitude of private health insurers would no longer be necessary, and that would save billions in paperwork costs.”
The Green Party has long supported a single payer system, explaining that eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste would easily fund health care for the uninsured. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing and all necessary care would be provided with no out of pocket costs to patients.