Health law upheld, but Minnesota health needs remain unmet
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 28, 2012
Contact: Erin Anderson
Health Care for All- Minnesota
Phone: (763) 228-5689
Contact: Ann Settgast, MD
Phone: (612) 387-7914
Contact: Elizabeth Frost, MD
Phone: (612) 724-3995
Today the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act. For many, this law will mean healthcare coverage is now within reach and lives will be saved. However, the unfortunate reality is that the law, despite its benefits for many Minnesotans, will not fix our health care mess: it will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves over 250,000 Minnesotans uninsured; it will not control costs; and it will not make health care affordable to Minnesotans with insurance, because high co-pays and gaps in coverage will continue to leave Minnesotans vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness. Minnesota has the nation's second-highest percentage of citizens enrolled in high deductible health insurance plans. These directly translate to delayed or foregone medical care "People put off care when they have to pay huge amounts of out-of-pocket cost often making an easily treatable illness much worse and more expensive" says Dr. Ann Settgast, Co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP- MN) and Health Care for All-Minnesota board member.
Why do so many problems remain even under this ruling? The ACA, despite its positive attributes, perpetuates a dominant role for the private insurance industry. This industry siphons off hundreds of billions of healthcare dollars annually for marketing, lobbying, profit and the mountains of paperwork it demands; it interferes with the real work of doctors and denies care to patients in order to increase the bottom line," says Settgast. In contrast, a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all system would achieve our needed goals --coverage for ALL Minnesotans; health security for patients and their families; and cost control. The fiscal analysis published by the Lewin Group earlier this year showed Minnesota could save $4 billion annually while covering everyone if we transition to a single-payer system. Under such a system, taxpayer dollars are saved by streamlining administration and reining in costs for medications and other supplies through the bargaining clout of the single payer. The average Minnesota family would spend ~ $1,200 less for healthcare than they do now. With this savings would come comprehensive coverage and financial security -- no Minnesota family would live one illness away from medical bankruptcy.
The major provisions of the ACA do not go into effect until 2014. Although we will be counseled to "wait and see" how this reform plays out, there's no need for this. Comparable reforms in Massachusetts and other states have not worked over the past decades. They have failed patients, while costs continue to skyrocket, and private insurers continue to amass extreme wealth.
"A state single-payer system is within practical reach. Enacting the Minnesota Health Plan would make us a model for the nation. It is the only equitable, financially responsible, and humane cure for our health care mess. Minnesota has a long history of doing better when it comes to health care -- let's not stop now" says Erin Anderson, Executive Director of Health Care for All-Minnesota.