By Michael Roberts
Denver News Blog, Thu., Feb. 18 2010
President Barack Obama’s visit to Denver today is prompting [several events].
Health Care For All Colorado (HCFAC) is behind a “Medicare For All” march co-starring Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Maryland pediatrician who was briefly arrested outside a Baltimore hotel where Obama was speaking while advocating for the issue.
Flowers’s point, according to Jim Worthy, a HCFAC board member and co-organizer of today’s march, is a simple one: “President Obama, in his address to the Republican caucus, recently suggested that if anyone had a better idea for health care reform, they should come to him and let him know. And Medicare For All is a better plan.”
How do we know? Experience, Worthy argues.
“Single payer is a better solution because it’s been tried,” he says. “It’s in effect in a number of other developed countries around the world, and it achieves lower costs and better outcomes than any other alternatives out there. And this is not policy-wonk speak. There’s real-world, on-the-ground evidence that it delivers real health care to people at lower cost.”
Moreover, he continues, expanding the current Medicare plan to cover the U.S. public as a whole makes practical sense on a number of levels. “It’s a proven system,” he stresses. “I understand that there are funding issues and a lot of mechanical issues in terms of making it work better. But if you ask physicians, they’re perfectly content with the claims, processing and effectiveness of Medicare. Their prime issue is reimbursement rates. And if it works for our nation’s seniors, it’s a perfectly workable model for the rest of the American citizenry.”
If all that’s true, why isn’t single payer being seriously considered in Congress or the White House?
“I remember that during the campaign, back in July of 2008 in Albuquerque, President Obama said that if he was starting from a blank page, single payer would be the way to go,” Worthy says. “But he felt it would be too disruptive.”
Worthy’s take? “What it disrupts are the people who make money off the current situation. It’s plainly that simple. People are protecting their profits, and they’re doing so at the expense of citizens’ health.”
Given the opposition by the powers-that-be to single payer, then, Worthy believes moving the proposal forward “will require true democracy as represented by actions of individual citizens in this country to make an ethical or moral choice for the kind of democracy they want to live in.”
Those who feel likewise are encouraged to gather at 1:30 p.m. today at a location that practically screams “health care” — the parking lot of Argonaut Liquors, 760 East Colfax, across the street from the Fillmore Auditorium, where the Obama event will take place. There, Flowers and others will address what Worthy calls “the fundamental question developed countries have asked and answered is: ‘Is access to health care a human right or not?’
“In other developed countries other than the U.S., they’ve said, ‘Yes, it is a human right,'” he goes on. “Our representatives haven’t quite figured out that the American people have come to the same conclusion, so we need to remind them of that. And that’s part of what today’s rally is all about.”