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Prescription for Single Payer Health Care

Sea Change Radio Co-Host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Dr. Quentin Young, pioneer in the movement get America a universal single payer health care plan. And Sandy Eaton of the Massachusetts Nurses Association explains why he’s for single payer in today’s Sea Change ViewPoint.

The US spends more than twice as much as the other industrialized nations for health care. But it ranks 37th in health outcomes, like longevity, infant mortality, and preventable chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. 45 million Americans have no health insurance at all and about the same number have insurance that’s woefully inadequate. Today we look at single payer health care — or Medicare for all — as the solution to this problem.

After being largely ignored by the press, it’s finally made it to the headlines. On May 5, eight advocates for single payer health care were arrested at what had been billed as a “Roundtable Discussion on Expanding Health Care Coverage” before the Senate Finance Committee. They politely asked committee chairman Max Baucus the question: “Will you allow an advocate for a national single-payer health plan to have a seat at the table?” Instead of answering them, Baucus called for the police to arrest them. And on May 13, five more were arrested at the Committee hearings, where 13 witnesses were invited to testify — not one a single payer advocate.

Three of the advocates arrested on May 5 were doctors. Our guest is another doctor at the forefront of the movement for single payer — the distinguished physician Quentin Young. He was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal physician when King was in Chicago. And President Barack Obama was a patient in Dr. Young’s medical group — and a personal friend of the doctor. In addition to his 60 years in medical practice, Quentin Young has been a national leader in public health policy and medical and social justice issues. He’s been President of the American Public Health Association and was a founder of the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group. And he’s National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, which includes 10,000 doctors who support single payer.

Medicare continues to be under assault: the prescription drug plan is expensive for seniors but a cash cow for Big Pharma. And medicare premiums go up, while the federal government subsidizes private Medicare HMO plans–called Medicare Plus. Quentin Young says, it’s all a sign of how politicans have sold out the needs of the American people to corporate interests.

Like the Massachusetts plan, the proposed federal plan would cover insurance for poor people and subsidize insurance for people who make up to 3 times the poverty rate. Those who make over that amount must pay the full cost.

Francesca ended by asking Quentin Young whether he thinks the health care access crisis is a threat to sustainability, in the sense of preserving the health of succeeding generations…

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