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    Single-Payer Health Care For the Win?

    It’s been awhile since Obama’s proposal for universal health
    care was replaced by a compromise known as the Affordable Care Act. Despite
    detractors from the right and left, Obamacare’s sell-that the Act would give
    millions of uninsured Americans coverage-appeased many. But now, as we wait to
    hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable
    Care Act, some have begun to whisper of a second chance for a single-payer
    system.

    If the Supreme Court declares the Affordable Care Act’s
    individual mandate unconstitutional, single-payer
    will almost certainly be back on the table
    , writes Yes! Magazine‘s Sarah van Gelder (citing Labor Secretary Robert
    Reich
    and columnist Rick
    Ungar
    of Forbes Magazine). Van Gelder argues that single-payer
    is what Americans want. “In poll after poll, a majority of Americans have
    expressed support for single-payer health care or national health insurance.”

    This may be the chance to get it, but proponents will have
    to make their voices heard. “[I]t would be a long and difficult process,” reasons Arnold Relman in The American Prospect, “that would be
    bitterly opposed by the private insurance industry and its friends […]
    Nevertheless, there are reasons I believe this transformation has at least a
    chance of becoming reality.” With an informed, engaged public and strong
    support from doctors, Relman writes, single-payer advocates stand a fighting
    chance to win the attention of legislators and outweigh the influence of lobbyists.

    The stakes may be higher than ever, since a single-payer
    system would save Americans $570 billion
    , reports economist Gerald Friedman
    in Dollars & Sense. Though a
    single-payer system “would raise some costs by providing access to care for
    those currently uninsured or under-insured, it would save much larger sums by
    eliminating insurance middlemen and radically simplifying payment to doctors
    and hospitals. While providing superior health care, a single-payer system
    would save as much as $570 billion now wasted on administrative overhead and
    monopoly profits.” In the midst of a recession, with great need to invest in
    renewable energy sources, education, sustainable transportation, and local food
    systems, Americans may have a chance to do more with their money than line the pockets of
    insurance company shareholders.

    Image by Keith Ellison, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Published on Apr 19, 2012

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