Stop Corporate Version of Single-Payer

March 21, 2018

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Republicans have a plan to save Obamacare. They have proposed a $60 billion payout for managed care corporations (“health plans”). The proposal includes $30 billion in reinsurance funds (transfer risk-bearing responsibility to taxpayers) and $30-$35 billion in cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, often called bailouts. That said, it now appears the payout may have been stripped from the must-pass (by Saturday) spending bill to be issued today.  
U.S. Senator Mike Lee gives the best defense against this redistribution of American wages.
Perhaps Republicans don’t understand that these health plans are socialized medicine under corporate cover. They are working hand in glove with government to establish a national health care system—run by them and funded by you. They centralize the dollars, the data, and the decisions.
Remember the failed Clinton Health Security Act. It would have put managed care organizations (now called “health plans”) in charge.
Look back even further.  Sen. Ted Kennedy authored the HMO Act of 1973 to merge the financing and delivery of medical care, exactly what socialized medicine is. These HMOs (now called “health plans”) rule the world of health care. Kennedy had the blessing of Republican President Richard Nixon, and the bill, which passed during the Christmas season of 1973, included $375 million to build them nationwide.
Sen. Kennedy supported a single-payer system (like Canada). He authored an Obamacare bill before he died. He knew what he was doing forty-five years ago.
But today’s Republicans appear clueless—or maybe many are Nixonian. They claim that health plans are the “private market.” But, health plans were imposed, not created by market forces. Law after law built and empowered them to the point that they’re empowered today to tell the government what it must do to keep them happy. Here’s the short list:
•  HMO Act of 1973 – see above
•  HIPAA of 1996 – health plans wanted access to all patient data
•  MMA of 2003 – created Medicare HMO plans (Medicare Advantage)
•  ACA – mandated HMOs (“health plans”) for all
So both sides are bending over backwards to socialize the American health care system, promising “health plans” billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.
I once told a congressional staffer that health plans are like the tail wagging the dog. He said, “No, they ARE the dog.”
Talks of repeal have dissipated. Health freedom has been dismissed. Congress wants health plans to save their political skins because they’re not willing to tackle the elephant in the room:  Medicare’s $43 trillion unfunded liability. In 2008, Medicare began paying out more money than it was taking in.
There ARE policy solutions. Congress should repeal the prohibition against catastrophic coverage, give seniors a way out of Medicare, provide tax equity and end employer-sponsored coverage to build a system of private insurance policies for the life of an individual. And of course, they should fully repeal the ACA.
Congress is looking for the easy way out: let the taxpayer-funded, statutorily-favored managed care corporations do the dirty work of rationing care. Everyone will be “covered” on paper but care may be hard to find, especially for the elderly, the young, and the disabled. Already 30 percent of Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage, most employees have been place in health plans, and Obamacare exchanges only offer health plans.
Let's stop this drive to the corporate version of single-payer.
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder
*Revised March 28, 2018