Maryland Economic Impact Study by Gerald Friedman, Ph.D.

July 22, 2012

The following is the executive summary of the economic impact study of the proposed Maryland Health Security Act. You can download the full study here.

Maryland is on an unsustainable economic path; health care costs are absorbing a growing share of personal income. Between 1991 and 2011, health care spending in Maryland increased by $35 billion, nearly 10-times the rate of population growth and almost twice the rate of growth in per-capita income. Should health care spending continue to increase at this rate, spending will pass $100 billion in a little over a decade. Little of this increased spending can be attributed to improvements in health care; instead, the fastest growth has been in administration and billing operations while many remain without adequate health insurance or access to needed care.

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The Maryland Health Security Act (MHSA) would put Maryland on a sustainable path by controlling health care costs while giving all citizens access to quality health care. It would establish the Maryland Health System Trust (MHST) as a single-payer system to finance health care, paying for all necessary medical care including hospital care, visits to doctors, nurses, occupational and physical therapy, prescription drugs, medical devices, medically necessary nursing home care and home health care. By reducing administrative costs and anti- competitive market practices, the MHST could save over $13.2 billion in 2013, or over 24% of existing spending. These savings would allow the expansion of coverage to all Maryland residents while still saving over $6 billion, or over $1,000 per person.

The MHST would be funded by payroll taxes and a levy on non-wage income including capital gains, profits, rents, dividends, and interest. The shift from insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to taxes linked with income would especially benefit lower- and middle-income Marylanders, businesses would also benefit from the reduced administrative burden and because payroll taxes would be less than most now pay in insurance. By lowering payroll costs, the MHST would make Maryland businesses more competitive, producing an additional 70,000 new jobs.

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Pharmed Out: U.S. Practitioners and Big Pharm Harm More Than They Heal

June 18, 2012

U.S. Practitioners and Big Pharm Harm More Than They Heal, Notes from conference June 14-15, 2012.

An Article by Dr. Deborah Schumann, M.D. from conference at Georgetown, University.

Marketing:  Americans spend 100 times more time exposed to drug and device ads than they spend face to face with their doctors.  Barbara Mintzes, PhD. Therapeutic Initiative, Vancouver, Canada.

Drug mortality:  Appropriately prescribed pharmaceuticals are the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., while 2% of drugs are “life-saving.” Donald Light, PhD., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

For full article click on  Pharmed Out:.

New Chapter Meetings Begun in Montgomery County

January 17, 2012

Montgomery County Healthcare-NOW, led by several PNHP members, met April 10 at Dr. Deborah Schumann’s home.  Our volunteer membership brings together a broad range of experience in primary and specialty care, health care policy, employee benefits management, and community health care organizing and delivery.   Our immediate plans include organizing for local participation in the Health Care is a Human Right campaign.  For this, we need both medical and non-medical people who want to help us achieve equal access to affordable quality health care for all.

Check us out.  For contact info go to http://www.mdsinglepayer.org/about/contact-us/

Groups meeting in Carroll, Frederick and Calvert County

January 12, 2012

The Maryland Healthcare is a Human Right! now has groups meeting in 7 localities and counting.  Recently, groups in Carroll, Frederick and Calvert County have formed, in addition to Baltimore City, Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel County.  The campaign is opening a new website http://healthcareisahumanrightmaryland.org (apologies for long URL), in order to centralize information and create new branding for the campaign.  The campaign colors are red, yellow, black and white, i.e. Maryland’s state colors.

Currently, the emphasis of many advocates is on building up and expanding the campaign.  We need a much larger base of  support; so that when we start emphasizing the legislature they will notice and listen.  With energy and time having its limits, there will be a decreased emphasis on legislation this session.  There is no plan to re-introduce the Maryland Health Security Act this year.  This will disappoint some.  However, for those wanting to keep the single-payer fires burning in Annapolis, there will be the opportunities to testify on the exchange legislation.  We know single-payer is superior in every way to the current and newly forming health insurance system.  Meanwhile don’t hesitate to communicate with your state senators and delegates about single-payer and the Friedman study “Financing the Maryland Health Security Act”, available on this website.  There is also a link to the Maryland Health Security Act from 2011 which is identical to the 2012 version if want to refer to it.

–Eric Naumburg, M.D., M.P.H.  12/12/12

Single-payer system would alleviate misuse of emergency rooms

June 4, 2011

Baltimoresun.com

4:37 PM EDT, June 1, 2011

 

The headline reads emergency room visits at Howard County General Hospital “might hit a high mark” this year. We know this means that the ER is being misused as a source of primary care. Don’t feel bad, Howard County; in Massachusetts, the model for national health reform, emergency room visits hit a new high last year, and they have under 5 percent with no health insurance, while Maryland has a close to 15 percent uninsured.

The overuse of the ER is a symptom of the lack of primary-care providers in the county. Why the shortage? It is our faith in the markets to make things work. Health Insurers have the upper hand; they decide what primary care is worth. The result is the pay is too low to attract enough primary-care providers.

The reliance on a profit-driven market place to make the medical system work is a problem beyond a shortage of primary care in wealthy county like Howard. The cost of health insurance has more than doubled in the past nine years and the employee share of this expense is rising. Wages have not and cannot keep up with this pace. Before too long most of our salaries will be going to health insurance.

There is a better solution. It is a single-payer health-care system, a program like Medicare that includes everyone but with expanded coverage. The administrative waste in health care is staggering. We spend over 1/3 of our health care dollars on it. Administrative hassles eat up over 10 percent of our doctors’ time that could be put to patient care. A government-run, taxpayer-financed privately delivered system would eliminate much of this waste.

The payment system is streamlined; the middle man (health insurers) is gone. Decisions about doctor pay and distribution of resources can now be made based on medical need first and then profit. With the savings, health-care coverage could be made universal, and expanded to include all needed medical services plus dental and pharmacy. The academic studies to prove this have been done, repeatedly. More importantly, international experience with single-payer systems show the same outcome.

Vermont has passed legislation that will lead to universal health care based on a single-payer system in their state. The Vermont bill starts from the principle that access to health care is a human right. Right now, health care is being treated as a commodity, rationed based on ability to pay. Maryland has similar legislation to Vermont; the Maryland Health Security Act (SB 388). I urge you to find out about it.

Eric Naumburg

Columbia

Eric Naumburg, M.D., is Maryland Health Security Act coordinator for Healthcare-Now of Maryland.

www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/opinion-talk/letter-editor/ph-ho-cf-letters-060211-7-20110601,0,818858.story

Contact your State Legislators about the MD Health Security Act Now

May 30, 2011

Healthcare-Now of Maryland makes it easy for you to ask your state legislators to support the Maryland Health Security Act.

Teams of Healthcare-Now of Maryland members have been in Annapolis the past few weeks meeting with state legislators and asking for their support. Of course, as a constituent, your voice is more powerful than ours. That is why we need your help.

Please visit the new page on our website and take a moment to send a note to your state delegate(s) and senator. It only takes a few minutes. You can use our letter or write your own. You don’t even need to know who your state legislators are. Healthcare-Now will find out for you, based on your address, and will provide you with their names and photos. Just go here.

Thank you for taking the time to support the Maryland Health Security Act.

Contact Your Member of Congress About Funding Domestic Needs

May 16, 2011

Healthcare-Now of MD is a member of the Fund Our Communities campaign to cut military spending and fund domestic priorities such as universal health care, education and jobs. Forty members of the Maryland state legislature signed on to a letter that was sent to all Maryland members of Congress asking them to decrease military spending and instead use the tax dollars to repair our crumbling social and physical infrastructure. You can read the letter here (.pdf).

We are asking you to take a moment to contact your Maryland senators and representative to offer support for this letter. You can do so by clicking here.

Healthcare-Now of Maryland Represented at the Fund Our Communities Mini-conference

March 31, 2011

Representatives from Healthcare-Now of Maryland, Ken Sandin, Ray Sullivan and Margaret Flowers, attended the Fund Our Communities mini-conference on March 26th in Bethesda, Over 50 people representing the 37 organizations which have joined the coalition spent the morning listening to speakers and then breaking into smaller groups in order to decide how to move forward to build a strong voice in Maryland that demands that we bring our war dollars home to fund domestic needs. The Fund Our Communities coalition is part of the New Priorities Project, a growing nationwide campaign.

Speakers included Miriam Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies who is working with Congressman Barney Frank to cut military spending by 25%; Gino Renne, President of UFCW 1994 MCGEO; Elbridge James of the NAACP; Jeff McManus of Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Dr. Flowers; Lindolfo Carballo of CASA de Maryland; Fred Mason, President of the AFL-CIO of MD and DC and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink.

Points noted about health care in Maryland include:

  • There are nearly 800,000 uninsured people in our state.
  • The underfunding of developmental disability supports and services has led to placing 3,642 Marylanders on waiting lists to receive state services which they depend on to live a full life.
  • Three state facilities and residential centers that serve mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals have closed since 2007, and capacity at other facilities has been reduced.
  • The proposed budget for FY 2012 includes a $5.9 million reduction in addiction funding compared to FY 2009 while there are currently 42,000 untreated people in Baltimore alone.
  • Maryland’s Medicaid expansion has been halted.
  • The last two phases of a three-phase initiative to address Maryland’s dental crisis have been halted.
  • The proposed FY 2012 budget includes a $17 million reduction in provider payments for Medicaid and $15 million in unspecified cuts which means those with Medicaid will face greater difficulties finding care.

The mini-conference was a success. The FOC Coalition now has seed funding, a steering committee and a commitment to plan actions quickly such as resolutions to city and county councils, teach-ins and rallies.

Healthcare-Now of MD looks forward to working with the coalition to bring our war dollars home and fund domestic needs such as a universal single-payer health care system for the state of Maryland. We will keep you informed.

“Single-payer Is Best”

March 9, 2011

From SoMdNews.com by Carol Paris, MD.

I support a single-payer financing system as in the Maryland Health Security Act, SB388/HB1035. As a solo private practice psychiatrist in a grossly underserved area, I could devote more time to the care of patients if I didn’t have to devote so much time to the bureaucracy that is the reality of our current system.

The insurance lobbyists would have you believe that their industry is more efficient than a publicly funded program. It is not. They would have you believe they can absorb the fluctuations when the economy takes periodic downturns. Of course they can. They do it by increasing premiums and/or decreasing coverage and/or eliminating their risk entirely by morphing into third-party administrators and leaving all the risk with self-insured businesses while also avoiding regulation by the state.

It is true that, should the legislature decide to create a publicly funded financing system for health care for everyone living in the state, we would likely need an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to prevent dedicated health care funds from being redirected to the general fund during times of budget shortfalls. We have such a bill. It is HB926, the Dedicated State Funds Protection Act.

The time for Band-Aids is passed. We need forward-thinking, courageous legislators like the senators from Wisconsin, who are emboldened by their desire to represent their constituents, and not the profiteering interests of corporations. For my part, I will continue to grow the grassroots movement for single-payer health-care reform in Southern Maryland. If you would like to learn more about it, please contact me at www.mdsinglepayer.org.

Dr. Carol Paris, Leonardtown

http://www.somdnews.com/stories/03092011/entelet161510_32335.shtml

Fund Our Communities Coalition

March 7, 2011

Healthcare-Now of Maryland has joined the Fund Our Communities Coalition in Maryland. The mission of this coalition is to bring groups together to build a large enough grassroots voice to convince our lawmakers to end funding for wars and use the dollars to fund domestic needs such as health care, jobs, education and clean energy. Visit the website to learn more about how you can be involved: www.OurFunds.org. Representatives of Healthcare-Now of Maryland will attend the kick-off summit on March 26th.

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