~ Letter to the Editor ~
Kick off for a non-binding ballot initiative will continue throughout May
You may be asked for your signature to help get a question on the November, 2022 Ballot. There needs to be enough signatures for a question to be included on the Ballot. There is urgency to accumulate signatures because only three Ballot questions are allowed.
You can make a difference in getting Massachusetts one step closer to a better, less complicated health system. Provide your signature and/or volunteer to help collect signatures. Go to masscare.org/non-binding ballot initiative to help with this Campaign.
The Ballot question is proposed by the advocacy organization: Mass-Care: The Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care. Mass-Care has identified many Districts across the Commonwealth for this Campaign. Malden’s 33rd Middlesex, represented by Rep. Steven Ultrino and 35th Middlesex, represented by Rep. Paul Donato have been chosen.
The Ballot question proposed is as follows:
“Shall the Representative from this District be instructed to vote for legislation to create a single payer system of universal health care that provides all Massachusetts residents with comprehensive health care coverage, including the freedom to choose doctors and other health care professionals, facilities and services, and eliminate the role of insurance companies in health care by creating an insurance trust fund that is publicly administered?”
Why vote yes?
As a nurse in hospital, school and health insurance settings, I have encountered numerous occasions in which inequities exist. These are based on income, race, ethnicity and type of health insurance. While individual caregivers’ address immediate medical needs of each patient, one cannot help but see the cumulative effects of differences in opportunity in the lives of patients. While working for a major health insurer in the area of utilization management and “health care cost containment”, I saw how costly a person’s health insurance can be.
Despite efforts to contain costs, increase the percentage of residents covered by insurance, imposing regulatory requirements on hospitals and providers of care, Massachusetts remains one of most expensive places for individuals, families and employers to purchase insurance. The system remains highly fragmented and administratively burdensome.
The Ballot question is a non-binding policy question that, if passed does not require the legislators to be Cosponsors. It shows them that there is interest in their District and builds local power to create organizations that demonstrate wide support of this kind of health care. Your participation moves Massachusetts toward a comprehensive, quality, affordable, equitable health care because it is basic to life and human dignity.
The name “single payer health care” is a general term that can raise many questions. It covers other names you may have heard. Currently in the Massachusetts Legislative process, is the Bill: House 1267 and Senate 766: An Act to Establish Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Passage of this Bill would result in “health care trust” to form single payer health care.
Representative Steven Ultrino and Senator Jason Lewis are Cosponsors of the Act to Establish Medicare for All in Massachusetts.
So, as you think about the way you and your loved ones’ health care is delivered and financed today, you may wonder:
- Why are my premiums so expensive?
- Why do I have to have such a high deductible to afford insurance at all?
- Why did my neighbor wait so long to go to the Emergency Room?
- Why are there so many hoops to go through to get what I need?
- Why can’t I find a psychotherapist for my teenager?
- How would a single payer system solve this?
- Could a system really be “one and done”?
A recent University of Massachusetts poll indicated that 86 percent of respondents were “strongly in favor” or “somewhat in favor” of Medicare for All. Many of these respondents may have been aware of the “2021 Financial Analysis” by UMass Amherst Economics Professor Gerald Friedman.
Professor Friedman analyzed the economic effects of An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Professor Friedman concludes that “the Act would replace the multiplayer system of employer-based insurance, individually acquired insurance and federally sponsored programs (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid) with a single billing pipeline, thereby reducing administrative bloat and monopolistic pricing”.
He continues “after expanding coverage to the uninsured, removing barriers to access and correcting for the underpayment of Medicaid services, the Act would save $34 billion in the first year alone.”
To read the Executive Summary or Full Report, go to masscare.org/Legislation.
Interestingly, the birthplace of Medicare is the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. To read about the history of Medicare and how it became the national single payer in Canada, read: “They said Medicare for All Wouldn’t Work in Canada, too,” by Luke Savage. There are many other sites explaining the many political, economic and the ingredients of what has become Canada’s current national health system.
A single payer system, such as Medicare for All would improve not only patients’ cost, quality of care and access to services. It is also likely to streamline operations for providers (hospitals, outpatient practices).
The complexities of health care in Massachusetts cannot solely be attributed to “sicker patients”. Some private insurance carriers use different survival tactics. An example is that Seniors in the traditional public Medicare plan are being enticed to join private insurance plans. This is called Direct Contracting.
Under Direct Contracting, private entities offer Medicare Advantage Plans to seniors. Under this model, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has moved millions of Traditional Medicare beneficiaries into mostly commercial for-profit plans called Direct Contracting Entities, without enrollees’ full understanding or consent.
This program is called REACH – Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health.
Concern about Direct Contracting Entities is relevant to a Single Payer System, such as Medicare for All because individuals receive fewer services per premium dollar under a private compared to a public insurer. This deceptive practice has, and will continue to occur, creating financial incentives that are not in the best interest of seniors. One seamless single payer system for health care, for your lifespan could be far more efficient and less complicated.
Once again, Massachusetts has an opportunity to lead the nation in health care reform. This was accomplished in 2006 with the Affordable Care Act.
The move to single payer health care, such as Medicare for All makes a healthier Commonwealth!
Please sign the Ballot Initiative! Make it happen with Mass-Care.
BSN (Nursing), MPH (Public Health)