November 25, 2012

Another View: Maine should pursue a single-payer health care system

Hawaii and Vermont are moving toward systems where everyone is covered.

By JULIE KELLER PEASE

With the re-election of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land.

There are many people who believe that this is a victory for universal health care. Even Gov. LePage sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying the health reform law "is a stepping- stone to a single-payer system."

But is the ACA really going to provide health care for all? The answer is simple: "No." Even after it is fully implemented, 25 million to 30 million Americans, including at least 70,000 Mainers, will remain uninsured. Many more will be underinsured.

Instead of becoming "a stepping- stone to single-payer," the ACA reinforces and subsidizes the insurance companies' role in our complex multiple-payer health care system.

Multiple payers contribute to our health care costs, which are the highest in the world. Thirty percent or more of our dollars go to administration and profit.

Despite all of the money we spend on health care, we rank 36th in life expectancy, 34th in infant mortality and 37th in overall performance of our health care system.

Countries with single-payer systems perform far better, spend on average half as much per person, and spend just 2 to 10 percent of their health care dollars on administration.

Although we as a nation have decided that we are not ready for a single-payer system, states like Vermont and Hawaii have decided that they would like to bring single-payer systems to their states. Maine could follow a similar path.

To learn more about how a single-payer system could work in Maine, I invite you to visit the Maine AllCare website, www.maineallcare.org.

We would love to have you join us in our effort to educate ourselves and others about quality affordable health care for all Mainers.

Julie Keller Pease, M.D., of Brunswick is chair of the board of directors of Maine AllCare.

 

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