Indivisible Morris Meeting Summary, August 9, 2017
Topic: Health Care
What are our concerns and questions regarding the current efforts to repeal and replace the ACA/Obamacare?
First, what specifically are the problems with the ACA? Premiums are high, and are increasing. There is a lack of ready information about where the problems occur so that we can identify how the ACA is not working well, and begin in a bipartisan matter to address how to improve it. The ACA has done far more good than harm, and the need for ongoing adjustment does not justify its repeal. While Franken and Klobuchar’s support is solid, there is concern about the depth and reliability of Collin Peterson’s support for fixing the ACA.
In our assessment of current problems, It seems that health care costs, in general, are largely driven by two factors: insurance companies’ profit margins (i.e., middle man, waste, fraud); and drug costs. In addition, the Trump administration’s ongoing threats to withhold insurance companies’ monthly support payments introduces an intolerable level of uncertainty and forces premiums to rise.
We urge our MOC to adopt an immediate bipartisan approach to fixing the ACA, with both parties offering compromise. That said, we believe the following conditions are above compromise and should remain safe in any health care negotiations:
- Pre-existing conditions coverage must stay.
- Maternity care coverage.
- Mental health coverage.
- Medicaid protection and expansion if needed.
- No reduction in number of persons currently covered by ACA.
- HIPPA and all patient protections remain.
- Government payments guaranteed, if needed, to stabilize the insurance markets until ACA achieves balance between risks and costs.
- Assistance to individual consumers with high premiums until market conditions balance out.
Longer term, we favor a single payer, “medicare for all” health care system to cover everyone in the U.S. Toward that end, we favor a two-pronged approach:
- Support a long term plan to achieve national single payer, while immediately fixing ACA to assure its sustainability. We do not believe the U.S. can change quickly to a single payer system due to many entrenched financial interests. An interval of government supported transition is needed.
- Support efforts in MN to create a state single payer plan (resource: Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition: http://www.gmhcc.org/.
We believe that health care costs are lower and outcomes better when everyone has insurance. A report recently published in Bloomberg News* compares the U.S. with 35 other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report finds that the U.S. spends the most of any of the 35 countries, while life expectancy ranks 27th. Further, the U.S. has the sixth highest maternal mortality rate and the ninth highest likelihood of dying at a younger age from a host of ailments including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Unlike the other countries in the OECD the U.S. relies on voluntary health insurance to fund health care costs, with public health insurance accounting for 27% of all coverage. By contrast, the 10 countries in the OECD with the highest life expectancy depend on voluntary insurance for an average of less than 6% of costs. Government spending accounts for nearly half.
* Bloomberg.com, August 2, 2017, by Laurie Meisler
As Indivisible, we are committed to communicating with our MOC, our local legislators, and our local health care system leadership about our concerns. It is also important to express our thanks to our Senators Franken and Klobuchar and our 7th district congressman, Collin Peterson, for their recent votes against TrumpCare, and to communicate to them our ongoing support for a bipartisan approach to improving the ACA to create a sustainable health care system for all.
Submitted by Maddy Maxeiner