Sunday, June 17, 2007

Massachusetts Poised for Single-Payer System

I look at this poll and that's my deduction.

1. Are you aware that Massachusetts has a law requiring all state residents
to have health insurance?
Yes — 92%
No — 8%

2. Do you believe people should be compelled to buy health insurance even if they don’t want it?
Yes — 42%
No — 49% (18-35 year olds are most supportive at 50%; 56 and older are least
supportive at 37%.)

3. Do you believe all people will purchase the health insurance they are required to buy?
Yes — 19%
No — 73%

4. Do you believe everyone has a right to healthcare?
Yes — 92%
No — 7%

If 92% of people think everyone has a right to health care, yet a 49% plurality of people don't think anyone should be compelled to buy it, a true Universal, single-payer system would likely be an even more popular choice than the status quo. Let's hope politicians can keep up with the public on this issue, especially here at home in Massachusetts. The status quo has already proven to be a massive failure and our politicians need to be proactive instead of reactive in addressing it, before anyone actually dies from this new bill's policies.

The State should look into single-payer and other, similar systems (perhaps akin to Germany's) and make plans to change our current failure within the next twelve months. Hopefully, our politicians will have to stop being so risk-averse and come out with another plan that will make Massachusetts a leader all over again - true universal coverage, where no one is left behind with either no coverage or bad coverage. If these politicians want to be remembered for sparking a true revolution, right from Beacon Hill, they should vote for real reform on health care and not our current system, which amounts to corporate welfare and false promises of "universal coverage." We've already done it with marriage equality, let's now solve society's great problem: health care.


Anonymous said...

Public Opinion

Exchanges with Gary, I think, on BMG led me to think that conservatives have a different take on polling regarding universal health care. I haven't unraveled all that. Conservatives also have discovered that convincing everyone that everyone else is a conservative is useful for making their side look stronger than it is. Best example: how conventional wisdom viewed Bush's popularity long past the point that the polling showed Bush to be unpopular. Bush still insists the American people are with him when they aren't. Anyway, there is a controversey about public opinion and it could use some attention.

A further complication is the ease with which large infusions of money can change public opinion. The insurance industry has a lot to lose should universal health care become a reality. They will send in 18-wheelers full of money to defeat it. So for public support to really matter it has to be damned hard support or it will only be as strong as the first little pig's home before the approach of the huffing and puffing wolf.


Anonymous said...

The government should get out of peoples lives. What about the adult Christian Scientists, they don't believe in doctors but are going to be forced into the system.
What about the rights of this minority.

Anonymous said...

In 2004, a CBS poll that 59% of Americans said they would favor an amendment to the Constitution that would "allow marriage only between a man and a woman," up slightly from 55% in a poll conducted in 2003.

Should the politician have relied on that polling data to get behind the public opinion.

Wait! It turns out that the answer the poll delivers depends on the phrasing of the question.

Is it possible that the public may differ on its support of 'single payer' depending on the phrasing of the question? The cost of the single payer? The effect on the tax they would pay for universal coverage? The effect on the coverage the polled person has currently?

joe said...

Be careful when you start talking about foreign healthcare systems, like Germany's. When I was over there, I never heard anyone complain about the healthcare they received, and believe me, I asked, but there was a lot of complaint over the rendonculously high taxes.

The family I lived with was extremely healthy. None of them were overweight, they excerised, were outdoors and did activities a lot, and ate well. My host dad didn't like the idea of his money paying for someone's diabetes treatment because that person couldn't stop shoving cake in their face all the time.

Mayhaps there should be an exception in this healthcare for preventable problems such as obesity?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Joe, there should be lines drawn. What about two people who marry, have kids, knowing they're carriers of a genetic disorder. Should we cover their kids. That's why draw the line at no automatic coverage for adults. Kids covered till they are 18.

Anonymous said...


Studies on diet increasingly suggest that people the diets on which people lose weight induce a starvation response. Survival of the species would have it that we are programmed not to ignore that response. We have a tendency to see obesity as a moral failing; science seems to be shedding that opinion.


Anonymous said...

@9:10 a.m. (second comment)

No tears here for coercing Christian Scientists into a healthcare system. I expect post-Enlightenment democracies to base decision on science not religion.

@9:55 a.m. (third comment)

No politicians should not get behind positions based on polling. In fact, that is precisely the problem with our Democratic leader-wanna-bes. They wait for public opinion rather than mold it.

Those of us who think single payer is the best choice are curious as to how much work it would take to achieve it.


joe said...

If you try to pin the obesity epidemic on anything besides too many people shoving their mouths til their tummies explode, you're kidding yourself.

Anonymous said...

So it's OK to force the will of the majority on a minority as long as its based on prevaling science. Remember science has changed its tune over the years.

Ryan Adams said...

Making health care a right is all about expanding rights, not taking them away. For the 100,000 people or so who are Christian Scientists, they have no laws that will compell them to actually USE their free health care... it will only be there if they want to use it.

As far as the cause of obesity, there's a direct correllation between rising obesity and the farm bill we pass every few years. When we first started subsidizing high fructose corn syrup is when America started getting fat. I'd surmise that if we focused on exercize and stopped giving handouts to corporations for turning corn into sugar, we'd start losing weight as a nation.

And then there are people like me. Even when I ran cross country - which meant I ran a few miles every day to get ready for meets - I wasn't what you'd call skinny. I was a three sport athlete in high school and big. I'm just genetically built that way, because believe me, I've tried damn hard for a very long time to not be that way.

Anonymous said...

Moral Explanations

I was inclined to think that obesity was some sort of moral failing, too, but the fact that such a tiny percentage of dieters are successful after a decade leads me to think that that attractively simple explanation (which often also does double-duty as self-flattery for its non-obese proponents) is false.

Science is like that. If our intuitions were always right, we wouldn't need it.


Anonymous said...

So it's OK to force the will of the majority on a minority as long as its based on prevaling science. Remember science has changed its tune over the years.

You only want eternally perfect policies? You have a better basis? Tarot cards? Your grandma's prejudices? The Boston Herald editorial page? You miss the monarchy?

-King Busch

Anonymous said...

But Ryan, the govt IS compelling people to use the plan by putting in place monetary penalties. And it's not just the Scientists, what about people who beleive in acupuncture, Chinese herbal meds, etc. So not only would we be forcing the issue, culturally only "Westernized" medical thought would be valid.

Anonymous said...

King Busch - I want the gov't out of peoples lives as much as possible.

joe said...

I've seen you before Ryan, and yeah, you're a big guy, but you aren't obese by any measure. But you're also tall, so its all in the build.

I'm talking about those people you see at McDonalds who weigh the better part of 400 and have kids with them that are headed down the same path.

Benjamin Melançon said...

Who among those forced to buy health insurance, and absolutely hating it -- I can't believe the most affected group, young people, are honestly most for forced private health care when they have to give the money to some unaccountable corporation for terrible care -- want to band together and see about becoming our own health insurance / care provider?

On obesity...

There's no such thing as a collectively experienced problem with a solely individual solution. Like obesity, many preventable diseases were epidemic in the U.S. just over a century ago. You could (and many people did) say that these poor people, these new immigrants, jews and ethnic types should keep themselves cleaner. Whatever. And then public sanitation systems were installed and the problem was actually solved. Likewise, whatever the merits of individual responsibility, to combat obesity we need an agricultural system that doesn't subsidize high fructose corn syrup and a transportation system that doesn't depend on automobiles.

Systemic changes like these and positive incentives for individual choices that lead to better health aren't excluded by universal (government-guaranteed) health care. In fact, they naturally follow when health is seen as a collective concern that must be available to each person.

And no one should be forced into any health care system, just like we aren't forced to use other things our taxes support (indeed, though, few things would be as widely used as health care).

So that's the sort of system we want to build. Back to the moment, now, of being forced to pay basically for-profit private institutions for inferior care:

How many people do you think we need to cost-effectively be our own insurance provider? Effective movements of better anything have often provided stopgap services at the same time as advocating for wider change: it's a powerful combination, which is sadly too often disconnected. (Instead, apolitical charities ensure their permanent existence by never addressing root causes, and advocacy groups ensure their perpetual existence by never becoming relevant to the people most affected by status quo policy.) The disconnect isn't often intentional, and is promoted by nonprofit tax law, and combining effective help and powerful argument is difficult in any case. And yet:

Meeting immediate needs and working toward systemic change truly builds the future we want to create. It proves another world is possible, to borrow from the social forums (in the U.S. next week). If enough people who want a change (for instance over 90% who say health care is a right) also believe it is possible, they are willing to work for it and a better world can be made real.

So who's in? I'm in a web development collective (and we need health care!). We can't provide administration for such an effort, and I'll stop this unsolicited political theorizing from a web developer, but we can provide a web site to coordinate it. Just drop us a line and let the movement begin! Agaric Design Collective contact form.

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