When former Oregon-resident filmmakers Laurie Simons and Terry Sterrenberg began shooting Now is the Time- Healthcare for Everybody, they had no idea the U.S. healthcare system was about to be thrown into disarray by the new administration’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, potentially causing millions of Americans to lose their healthcare access. But the threat of impending major changes to the healthcare system makes their film even more timely.Read More
Below is a letter to the AMA by Dr. Samuel Metz of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO) about his opposition to the AMA's endorsement of Donald Trump's nomination of Dr. tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Dear Oregon physicians,
The nomination of Dr. Tom Price as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services was endorsed by the American Medical Association. https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/why-we-support-dr-price-lead-hhs
I was not happy with this choice. Below is a letter sent to the AMA office listing my objections. Following it are two responses from the AMA.
Other physicians were even more unhappy with this choice. Nationally, many took action:
The first link allows more physicians to join as signatories. Please consider doing so.
Please also consider contacting the AMA office with your opinion.
Samuel Metz, MD
From: Samuel Metz [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 10:17 AM
To: Medical Association American (Jack.Deutsch@ama-assn.org)
I am deeply disappointed with the AMA’s enthusiastic endorsement of Dr. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
As the AMA endorsement states, Dr. Price is an experienced physician, administrator, and legislator. He understands how to achieve policy goals.
It is his specific policy goals that concern me. Dr. Price’s highest priorities are protecting physician Medicare revenue and reducing federal Medicaid spending.
In contrast, my highest priority is increasing every patient’s access to healthcare regardless of ability to pay at time of need. Dr. Price’s priorities conflict with mine.
I am a private practice anesthesiologist who enjoys my highly paid medical specialty. All my patients receive excellent care, or so I hope. My greater concern, and the concern the AMA should adopt, is getting care to patients who currently get none, and suffer or die for that lack of care. One third of Americans, insured or not, delay or defer care because of inability to pay. The US is unique among industrialized nations in rationing care on the basis of individual wealth.
Dr. Price’s policies improve my income and reduce my taxes. They do not correct America’s wretched system of denying care.
The AMA has always put my professional financial needs first. That should change. Compared to other nations, American patients (including mine) suffer the worst outcomes from chronic diseases and die more frequently of treatable diseases because of inability to pay for treatment. This also should change. I want the AMA to advocate for patients. I am willing to sacrifice portions of my income to bring better care to more patients.
The AMA endorsement of Dr. Price creates a moral dilemma. Do I remain a member of a professional organization that places my financial interests above the interests of patients too poor to afford care, even care from me?
The AMA public image, rightly or wrongly, as a “physicians first – patients second” organization is corroborated by this endorsement. I urge the AMA leadership to consider the credibility damage to the AMA generated by associating with Dr. Price’s policies. My fear is that the AMA will lose current members, lose public trust, and lose the next generation of physicians whose professional commitment places patient access above personal financial success.
Please reconsider the AMA endorsement of Dr. Price.
Samuel Metz, MD
From The Corvallis Advocate:
By Kirsten Allen
Ron Green first learned of the woes of providing health care to employers in the 70s when he was running a bike shop in Texas. Green, a disabled veteran, receives free health care through the VA. When his bike shop began to expand, he looked to hire workers that were either young and still covered by their parents’ insurance, or old enough to receive Medicare, to keep costs down and earn profit.
“In the late 1960s, we had 5% of our GDP devoted to health care. Now, that’s 18%, and it’s going up. That’s just not sustainable, we can’t afford to keep doing that. Those that do have coverage often go bankrupt either providing it or paying medical bills, and those who don’t are constantly worried about the consequences of not having it,” said Green.
It is for this reason, as well as several others, that Green agreed to chair the Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates (MVHCA). MVHCA is a grassroots organization founded in the early 90s, with the goal to bring quality health care to everybody. Along with their ally, Health Care for All-Oregon, (HCAO) a coalition of over 100 organizations, MVHCA is working “to create a comprehensive, equitable, affordable, publicly funded, high quality, universal health care system serving everyone in Oregon and the United States.”
Medical bills are the number one reason Americans are in debt. The US is paying more toward health care than the entire GDP of France, and yet we are ranked 31st in the world. Green, along with volunteers of MVHCA, is trying to change this using the method of single-payer health care.
Also referred to as universal health care, single-payer health care is a system where the state government provides free health care to everybody. Funded by a progressive income and employer payroll tax, single-payer would provide quality health care free of premiums, deductibles, and co-payments.
Green again: “The fact is, it’s going to cost a lot of money. It’s not politically easy to sell to people the idea that we’re going to have to raise so much money from taxes to pay for it. The other half of that, of course, is you subtract from that all the health insurance company premiums, all the co-pays and deductibles. The intent of the plan is to cover all services previously covered by Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB), Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB), Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage Plans.”
HB 2922 was brought to the Oregon legislature in 2013, outlining the implementation of the plan. Though the bill didn’t go to General Assembly for a vote, it had 24 sponsors, up from 12 in 2011. This year, Green expects that number to increase to 36. The health care plan was supplemented by HB 3260, which proposed a study of four different health care systems in attempt to discern which system would best fit Oregon. The study is estimated to cost $200,000, a drop in the bucket considering the amount of money the state has spent before. The bill passed, overwhelmingly in fact, but was later struck down because a source of funding hadn’t been identified. The bill is expected to pass in the next legislative session, and Green suspects the results of the study will be in favor of a single-payer system.
Although HB2922 didn’t pass, sponsorship in the legislature nearly doubled since the previous vote, and is expected to continue growing. Though a promising sign, ahead lie many obstacles waiting to slap the bill down. Perhaps the most challenging obstacle is the profit-driven system we are involuntarily thrust into. This system has many stakeholders (medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, etc.) whose profits would take a hit and who would squeal the loudest when this plan creates enough steam to capture more widespread interest and support.
Another obstacle Green expects to encounter lies at the heart of what the single-payer plan is all about: health care for everybody, including undocumented migrant workers. After the failure of Measure 88, Green suspects this to be a considerable point of contention. However, no matter the amount of resistance this matter is likely to receive, it will remain non-negotiable.
The governance of the plan is also expected to draw opposition. Typically citizens are wary of health care when the government is involved (think of the infamous “death panels” that accompanied the rolling out of Affordable Care Act). However, Green believes this is a taboo society must overcome. The plan will be governed by a board of directors containing nine voting members appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate. The board will include two licensed health care providers, two persons with significant education and experience in public health, two with demonstrated experience in health or consumer advocacy, and one each from labor and business. Having a state-regulated health care system would allow for better allocation of resources, cut wasteful spending, and reduce expensive overhead.
Among single-payer’s many advocates, Physicians for a National Health Care System has been boisterously supportive. Dr. Carol Paris, a psychiatrist and member of PNHCS, states the cost of dealing with insurance companies to an average primary care physician is somewhere around $68,000. These costs result in an increase in price and decrease of face time for patients, because doctors need to see a larger volume of patients to make enough money to pay their insurance clerks and have enough money left over to support themselves.
Now that you know the who, the why, and the what, get ready to embrace the when, the where, and the how. MVHCA are teaming up with HCAO to rally at the capitol in Salem on Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Buses will run from Corvallis and Albany to transport red shirt-wearing, banner-carrying folks wanting to express their desire for health care for all. The rally will feature live music, inspiring speakers, and a chance to join a group to meet with legislators. Being that this is an issue universal to all colors, ages, and occupations, it would be fantastic to have more than the typical old white protestor. The rally is expected to draw 2,500 people, so don’t wait to reserve your bus seat! For more information or to reserve your seat, visit www.mvhca.org. For more info, visit www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-faq.
The Health Care for ALL Oregon Education Fund helps educate people in Oregon about the need for universal publicly funded health care. Let's pitch in and help them earn this grant! Thank you.
Tom’s of Maine is accepting nominations for its 50 States of GoodTM annual sponsorship program. Tom’s will award $10,000 to one 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in each state plus the District of Columbia—$510,000 in total.
With your help, HCAO-EF could be Oregon’s $10,000 winner. The nomination process is easy and relatively quick. You just need to fill out a simple on-line form. The deadline for nominations is September 30, 2014.
YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO NOMINATING HCAO-EF
Access the nomination form here. After you land on the nomination page, verify your eligibility. Then select the category that best describes HCAO-EF’s overall mission from the pull down menu: Health & Wellness
Then you will be asked to answer the following two questions. Share specific examples where possible.You only have 300 characters and spaces to answer each question.
- How has this nonprofit made a difference in your life or the life of someone you know?
Note: We checked and you can talk about how HCAO-EF’s mission would make a difference if we achieve publicly funded health care for ALL..
- What is the one thing you’d want the judges to know about this nonprofit that sets it apart?
Here are some things you might want to say. Use your own words, of course.
- HCAO-EF’s mission is to educate Oregonians about publicly financed health care.
- Health care is NOT a commodity. It is a human right. HCAO-EF wants all Oregonians to have high quality, publicly funded health care.
- HCAO-EF is training people to advocate for themselves.
- Have you attended an HCAO-EF educational event?. What did you learn?
- Our Speaker’s Bureau is educating Oregonians and Oregon businesses about the differences between health care and health insurance and the need for publicly funded health care.
- Our support base is strong and growing: we have more than 12,000 volunteers and supporters with more added daily.
- HCAO-EF’s vision is a system of health care in Oregon that improves the health of all Oregon residents, improves the patient care experience (including quality & satisfaction), and reduces the per capita cost of health care.
- HCAO-EF embraces health care as a basic human and social need, rather than a commodity. We believe that Oregonians need a health care system that is publicly financed, one that encompasses the principles of universality, equity, accountability, transparency, participation, and public good.
Name of organization: Health Care for All Oregon Education Fund
URL of organization: HCAOEF.org
Nonprofit contact name: Linda Alband
Nonprofit contact email address: email@example.com
Nonprofit contact phone number: 503-206-6709 (office) or 971-404-9224 (cell)
Select a state (pull down menu): Oregon
Fill in your name, email address, and phone number in the appropriate places.
Please contact Linda by phone 971-404-9224 or email if you have questions.
The Health Care for ALL Oregon Education Fund