Why we need an expanded Medicare For All

Scott_Laugenour_50.jpgIt has been proven throughout the world that comprehensive health insurance will cost less and be of better quality when it is financed through public progressive taxes rather than through private regressive premiums. The barriers to implementing Medicare For All in Massachusetts are not based on economics, on health & medicine, or in public support.  The hurdles are political. There has been a decrease in the number of co-sponsors of the bill ... and lackluster advocacy for Medicare For All. Beacon Hill will respond more favorably when confronted with an occupation against big-money business as usual.

My second testimony in 2011 to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing took place December 15 at the public hearing on the Medicare For All bill.The complete testimony follows.

To the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.  December 15, 2011.

suit2.jpgI am Lee Scott Laugenour of Lenox, Massachusetts, an elected representative from Berkshire County to the State Committee of the Green-Rainbow Party.  I have run for office in strong support of an improved expanded Medicare For All, and I maintain an active campaign committee in my district.

I am testifying before this committee in support of the 'Medicare For All Health Care Bill'  S.501 and H.338.

The Green-Rainbow Party, unlike the other two gridlocked political parties in Massachusetts, is unified and unanimous in support of this bill.  Within the green political family I know of no local committee, chapter, other Green Party state affiliate, candidate, or office holder that does not support and advocate for it.  We don't expect that private insurance interests will offer financial support to us the way they so reliably and lavishly do to the other two parties; indeed, our by-laws and values would prohibit us from accepting such influence even if it were offered.

I also testified before this committee on June 24, 2011 in Pittsfield.  My testimony was in opposition to H.1849, which was followed up with an informative round of questions to me from Rep. Walsh on the subject of Medicare for All.  Rep. Walsh asked me then if I thought that Massachusetts was on a path towards Medicare For All.  The answer is "No."  A hallmark of Medicare For All in other countries is that everyone has access to quality health care and no one goes bankrupt because of health care costs.  Voters in Massachusetts should expect no less.  We are most definitely NOT on such a path.

This committee, I'm sure, hears ample compelling testimony about the economic and health arguments in support of Medicare for All.  You surely also hear about the broad public support that is recorded when organizations such as Mass Care place the question before voters.  This committee must also be aware of the unjust disparities of benefits that exist between ordinary people and people of privilege, such as yourselves.

The Green-Rainbow Party, while it is in political opposition to the Beacon Hill power establishment, will serve to underscore that the barriers to implementing Medicare For All in Massachusetts are not based on economics, on health & medicine, or in public support.  The hurdles are clearly political, so an organized political opposition is essential for those who desire a system of Medicare For All.

The economists, medical professionals, and public advocates who support Medicare for All are not winning the fight through traditional lobbying activities and through appeals for fairness, justice, and common sense in hearings such as this.  There are powerful forces that protect the status quo.

Despite sustained strong public support for Medicare For All, we observe a decrease in the number of legislative co-sponsors of the bill while financial contributions from private profit-making insurance/medical interests to fund established political forces remain strong.  (Compared to the last legislative session there are 4 fewer co-sponsors for the bill.  In addition, there are 8 co-sponsors from the last session who remain in office but have dropped their co-sponsorship in this session.)

We observe lackluster advocacy for Medicare For All even on the part of its Beacon Hill co-sponsors.  (One example:  as recently as December 9, Senator Ben Downing appeared on the radio program Good Morning Pittsfield discussing health care cost and quality issues for over ten minutes without once mentioning this bill in particular, his co-sponsorship of the bill, or the idea of Medicare For All in general.)  Where are the co-sponsors who educate a confused public and de-bunk the myths promulgated by the health care profiteers?  Are they, instead, collecting contributions from those who profit from a system that fails so many of their constituents, reserving their statements of support only for the votes of the single payer choir?

Medicare For All is at the forefront of our party's policy and membership-growth initiatives, which were formally adopted at a major statewide party gathering this year.  It has been proven throughout the world that that comprehensive health insurance will cost less and be of better quality when it is financed through public progressive taxes rather than through private regressive premiums/deductibles/and co-payments.  Is it no wonder that there is virtually no advocacy in other countries for the US or Massachusetts model of health care?

Many advocates testifying before this committee are from institutions that cannot take sides in partisan politics.  These advocates can, however, as individual fellow voters and as potential fellow candidates affiliate with and strengthen our party.   The prospects for Medicare For All will surely be bolstered by the growth of political opposition powered by determined individuals willing to affiliate and vote differently.  Beacon Hill would respond more favorably than it has in the past when confronted with such an occupation of business as usual.

Thank you for hosting this hearing today.

Showing 5 reactions

  • Richard Purcell
    commented 2012-02-12 14:06:43 -0500
  • Isabel Espinal
    commented 2012-02-12 13:48:42 -0500
    Thank you Scott for your leadership on this issue! A lot of people are complacent about the healthcare issue both in Massachusetts and nationwide because they think it’s good enough to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, this doesn’t work for a lot of people who can’t afford to. Also, even when patients have insurance, the business model of healthcare means doctors have to worry about being business mean and women instead of or in addition to being good doctors: http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/05/smallbusiness/doctors_broke/index.htm
  • Michael Heichman
    commented 2012-02-12 13:42:38 -0500
    I was wondering how much the Commonwealth would save each year if we adopted a single payer system.
  • Joanna Herlihy
    commented 2012-02-12 13:42:07 -0500
    Good idea!
  • Scott Laugenour
    published this page in healthcare blog 2011-12-15 10:00:00 -0500