Jill Stein on Health Care
Green Party presidential nominee; Former Challenger for MA Governor
STEIN: We are squandering trillions of dollars over the coming decade on a massive, wasteful health insurance, private health insurance bureaucracy. By moving to a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, we get a system that people love and want to defend from government tampering, and that system covers everyone comprehensively, puts you back in charge of your healthcare, and, in addition, it actually saves us trillions over the coming decade, equivalent to that austerity plan that they were talking about. What we have right now is 30% of every healthcare dollar is being spent on bureaucracy, red tape and paper pushing. Under Medicare, that 30% shrinks down to 2% to 3%. That's enough to cover everybody. And we deserve that.
STEIN: Both Obama and Romney-Ryan are both aiming for essentially for the same targets. For Medicare, they are both aiming for Medicare to be reduced to about 2.2% of GDP. A sign that things are not really different between these two corporate-sponsored candidates. They're both proposing about $700 billion in Medicare cuts. We can fix this. One thing we can do right now is to fix Medicare Part D so that it's no longer a boondoggle, a giveaway for pharmaceutical companies and to allow bargaining and negotiation to get bulk purchasing and bring down the cost.
ANDERSON: The solution to Medicare is to provide Medicare for everybody. To make it a single payer system.
STEIN: I live in the state of Massachusetts. So, I've seen RomneyCare or ObamaCare--take your pick--the Affordable Care Act actually in the flesh is neither affordable nor caring, because it provides stripped-down plans which are fairly expensive unless you are in a very low income. If you are making less than $20,000 a year as a family, you're covered. And it actually has expanded care for the very poor, and that is a good thing. But if you're in the $20,000-$40,000 bracket, near-poor, these plans cover about 70% of your costs; yet you are paying approximately 10% of your income for them. So, it's not affordable for families. You're not fully covered. The proof of the pudding here is that when people get sick in Massachusetts now, they go into medical bankruptcy just as much as they did before we had the Affordable Care Act.
A. Small time, sure. There are minor improvements. But on the other hand, he took single-payer off the table. He absolutely took a public option off the table. And how about bringing Wall Street in, the guys who created the problem, among his first appointments. It was pretty clear right then that this was going to be business as usual on steroids. We're certainly more equitable, or more healthy, with what Obama has brought.
A: I have always been involved in issue-based politics, not party politics--I was never really originally drawn to party politics. I'm trained as a medical doctor--that's my field: I've been practicing long enough to see how extremely broken our health care system is. I had become very active in the world of health care advocacy, advocating for single payer, but also in the world of environmental politics, and advocating for being a community provider of health. That's really the way to do it. If you really want people to remain healthy, you can't just throw pills at people once they become sick, which I feel like I was doing as a medical doctor, so I began working on more upstream thinking.I began thinking, "If only our elected officials knew that there were all of these cost-saving solutions ..." After five years I knew if you really want to fix any political problems, you also have to fix the political system.
A: Well, we have it in Massachusetts, since it's really modeled after RomneyCare, and it's very problematic. It is not a solution--it did extend care to some people who didn't have it, but kind of at the cost of working families. The costs are not fairly distributed; the mandate is extremely unfair; the system is entirely unsustainable, and it is not working. Many people say health care is worse than it is better under ObamaCare, which is remarkable because you don't know what the real problems of a health care system are until you get sick.
Q: Was ObamaCare a step forward?
A: I think it was a step backward for the final goal of a system of single payer health care.
Q: So do you support ObamaCare?
A: I don't support ObamaCare and see it as a step backward that entrenches the power of the private health care industry.
A: By reducing the 30% waste of healthcare spent on CEO salaries and wasteful bureaucracy. Streamline that and you have $400 billion in savings every year, and you can provide quality comprehensive healthcare for everyone. Add to that doing away with medical inflation, which is the biggest driver of rising healthcare cost. According to some economists, we could do way with the national debt simply by moving to a cost-effective healthcare system. There are trillions to be saved over the next decade by moving to a streamlined administrative system such as Medicare-For-All.
A: The government should be the provider, basically, but a quasi-government public entity, not necessarily the federal government directly. Definitely not the private sector. We should be broadening Medicare to reduce the outrageous waste of healthcare dollars--30% is now squandered on advertising, CEO salaries, and a very bloated wasteful bureaucracy.
There is a proven way to achieve all this while saving billions of dollars. It involves a Medicare-for-all system that pays for itself simply by cutting out the insurance company red tape. (It's sometimes called "single-payer," which means that all bills go to a single processing point--eliminating the costly and complex billing system required to submit claims to multiple private insurance providers, each following different rules).
Under single-payer, no one loses health insurance when they change jobs. And our health dollars are spent on better health care--not on insurance company red tape.
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Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Rocky Anderson(J)