Single Payer Solution for Obama

"If anyone...has a better approach that will bring down
premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for
seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know."

-- President Obama, State of the Union
January 27, 2010

An open letter in response to President Obama's State of the
Union request for a better approach to health care reform:

Dear President Obama,

During your State of the Union address, you explained why
you are fighting for health care reform, expressed frustration at the lack of
success, and invited others to suggest a better approach.

I'm taking you up on that invitation and offer a bold

Take a look at our Minnesota Health Plan -- a proposal that
covers everyone, saves money, and creates a logical health care system to
replace the dysfunctional non-system which currently exists. It is a proposal
that would provide health care to everyone, not merely health insurance for
many. Our MN Health Plan ( could be readily adapted as a
nation-wide plan. It would meet each of the five requirements you mentioned in
your State of the Union request:

Bring Down Premiums. Most Americans would see a big
reduction in premiums because the plan would be significantly cheaper than our
current health care non-system. Because the premiums for the MHP would be based
on ability to pay, everyone's premiums would be affordable. Some would pay
more, but overall, costs would go down. Most people would save money, while
getting the care they need and deserve. The total costs for the plan would be
less than we now are paying for premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and taxes for
medical programs.

Bring Down the Deficit. By keeping people healthier and by
delivering quality health care efficiently, it would save hundreds of billions
of dollars for the federal government, and even more for states. For example,
by covering chemical dependency treatment and providing comprehensive mental
health services, it would cut crime and human service costs (such as out-of-home
placement of children), some of the biggest and fastest growing expenses facing
state and local governments.

Cover the Uninsured. It would cover the uninsured and the
under-insured. In fact it would cover everyone -- 100% of the public.

Strengthen Medicare for Seniors (and everyone else). It
would cover prescription drugs -- with no "doughnut hole." It would
cover long term care, in-home care, dental, eye care, physical therapy, and
medical supplies -- it would cover all medical needs. And, they would have
their choice of doctor, hospital, clinic, dentist -- complete freedom to choose
their medical providers.

Stop Insurance Company Abuses. There would be no
"pre-existing conditions" to worry about, no underwriting, no denials
of coverage, no "out of network" problems. I like to use the analogy
of police and fire protection. When you return home to find a burglary in
process and call 911, the police dispatcher does not ask if you qualify. They
do not ask if you have police insurance. They do not ask whether your policy
covers home burglary. They don't ask if you have pre-existing conditions that
would disqualify you. They don't waste time and money having you fill out
forms so your insurance company can be billed. The police response does not
depend on your insurance status. Everyone is treated equally. It's the American
way. It is time to treat health care the same way.

As a 23 year member of the Minnesota Senate, let me comment
briefly on the politics of this proposal:

The MHP is a single payer proposal. You have acknowledged
that single payer is the only way to cover everyone. Seven years ago you said
that single payer health care is "what I'd like to see. But... we
may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House,
we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House." Now
that we have taken back the White House and the Congress, it is time to act.

I recognize, as you do, that you do not have the votes to
pass truly universal health care at this time. The insurance and pharmaceutical
industries contribute so much to members of Congress -- they control the debate
-- so health care for everyone isn't even on the table.

This, however, is your opportunity for leadership. If you
propose and fight for health care for all, as FDR did with Social Security in
1935, the voters would respond. If you don't win this year, ask the American
people to elect candidates who will stand with you. Make it the issue of the
campaign: Health Care for All vs. Health Insurance for Some. Instead of losing
Democratic members of Congress this year -- as Massachusetts illustrates -- you
would gain votes and could actually pass the bill next year.

Dr. Martin Luther King stated, "Of all the forms of
inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Almost a half century later, we still have not addressed the
injustice in health care that Dr. King described as the most inhumane. Ignoring
this injustice is immoral and it is economically unsustainable. People are
hurting, some are literally dying, businesses are folding, and it is crushing
our national economy.

Please, restore the Hope that you raised in all of us, bring
back the inspiration that made the American people so excited by your
inauguration. I urge you to step back, reconsider, introduce a health care plan
that is truly universal, and fight for it.

Justice requires no less.


John Marty

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