Single-payer Healthcare: Dollars, Sense and Your Right

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A single-payer NHP would cover every American for all medically necessary services, including mental health, rehabilitation and dental care, without copayments or deductibles. Covered services would be determined by boards of experts and patient advocates; ineffective services would be excluded from coverage.” -- Physicians for a National Health Program

Many southern Illinoisans stood up to our state and federal government these past years, asking for better and more affordable healthcare. We have done this over many state and federal election cycles, and in our union halls.

With its lack of universal healthcare, the United States stands apart from the world’s other developed nations. Many of these other developed nations initiated their universal healthcare from four decades to over a century ago. In 2015, our current health expenditure per year was nearly $3.1 trillion, or 17% of our gross domestic product. While health expenditures were about 17% GDP much of the past decade, this became 18% GDP in 2020 (compared to 9 to 12% of GPD in other developed nations). For this expense, we still had infant and child mortality worse than some developing nations like Haiti, Rwanda, and Cambodia according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Expenditure Database. In dollars, the 2017 U.S. current healthcare expenditures averaged $10,246 per capita; France, $4,380; Germany, $5,033; Canada, $4,755; and United Kingdom, $3,859. The figures were not much different in 2010 before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) further piecemealed health insurance coverage with other Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs benefits, and employer sponsored health insurance.

Even with ACA in 2018, 9% of the United States population, and 7% or 877,700 Illinoisans were uninsured (about three times more than presently enrolled in the ACA in Illinois). State data indicate that even higher rates of uninsured are located across the 115th District, and these areas overlap with higher Medicaid areas. While the ACA was enacted as a compromise with the GOP to allow competition between multiple insurance companies (instead of a single-payer program), many regions only have one or two companies from which to choose various ACA Marketplace policies. ACA policy rates (plus deductibles and co-pays) are high for the 50-to-64-year-old age bracket before an income adjusted subsidy lowers out-of-pocket cost. In short, the current system isn’t working.

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The Funding and Future of Higher Education

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We are all aware that public higher education in Illinois has been struggling. The simple truth is that our poor political leadership in the state, from both sides of the aisle, has allowed our once great system of higher education to dwindle down to an also-ran. When action was needed, over two decades back, our leaders did nothing. As our mismanaged state began to deal with a century of debt ad corruption, higher education was cut, and then cut again and again. When the legislature and the governor decided to have their showdown, they placed higher education squarely in the middle and starved it for over two years. It is a wonder we still have public higher education in this state.

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COVID-19

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Freedom isn’t free. The bumper sticker slogan seen on military families’ vehicles has new meaning during the new “normal” in this year’s COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19’s serious impact is not something to play down.

 

Whether you call it by its official name, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, our lives have suddenly changed from its impact. Many have read CDC and other medical COVID-19 recommendations, worn their masks, sheltered at home, and social distanced; others don’t see the point. In April 17.2% of Illinoisans became unemployed, compared to 3.5% in January 2020. This declined to 11.5% as businesses reopened later in the summer. Small businesses are strained. While the 115th took a big hit, our counties have not been among the worst in unemployment this summer.

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Education in the Future

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We are not doing a good job in educating Illinoisans. That problem is devastating us in the southern part of the state. (It is a different kind of problem in Chicago and up north generally.) I need to break this into three parts. (1) the funding of pre-school, primary, and secondary education; (2) the funding of higher education; (3) the role of education in economic development. I will handle these questions in three successive blogs. Let us begin with the first.

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Fair Tax

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Why I support the Fair Tax Amendment

 

People do not seem to understand the difference between what we will actually vote about November 3rd and the proposal on the table as to how the reforms might look. These are different things. They have to be considered separately. Really. You do not vote for the progressive tax or against it, you vote to change the Illinois constitution.

 

The amendment to the Illinois constitution eliminates the flat tax and replaces the language about that with language empowering the legislature to set tax rates.

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College Debt

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When I started college at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in the fall of 1979, my tuition bill for the first semester was $187, for a full-time load. There was a $5 athletic fee (which was new), and the books cost about $100. I still have a couple of them. Parking was $15 for a year. The dormitory was about $300 a year, if I recall rightly. 

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