Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kucinich Defends his Single-Payer Health-Care Proposal

This summary was submitted by Joe Briggs.

Ohio Congressman and democratic-party presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich answered detailed questions on his controversial single-government-payer universal health-care proposal yesterday. Appearing on the 'PolicyWatch' talk-show at MCAM-TV23, host Joe Briggs and guest analyst Arnie Arnesen challenged the candidate on the plan's costs, how it would be paid for, what benefits would be provided, and how it would transform the existing for-profit health-care system.

The plan that Kucinich promotes is a bill in congress known as HR676. He describes the proposal as self-insuring, eliminating much of the costs and risks that providers face against litigation in efforts to reverse the paradigm of defensive medicine that doctors claim is the primary contributor to high health-care delivery costs. He says that the only way to restore the authority to decide what is necessary and sufficient to diagnose and treat an ailment back to doctors is by eliminating the profit out of the system. The candidate's proposal does not address access to a medical education, the educational costs and debt-load of graduating doctors, nor the AMA's role in that process. He does not target the high-income of US doctors – which are the highest paid in the world, and said that Medicare's reimbursement formula will be reworked to cover their actual costs.

He calculates the that significant savings will be made through a wellness-driven, high-availability system designed to avoid chronic situations that require long-term treatment.

Kucinich acknowledged that like Canada, non-life-threatening procedures will involve a wait-time, however patients will not be prevented from seeking health-care from private providers; but those expenses will not be compensated through the federal system. Private health-insurance companies will not be allowed to compete with the federal system for mainstream health-care.

The program will be paid for by increasing the existing employer-paid Medicare tax by approximately 4% - substantially less than the average $14,000 family insurance plan in New England. He said that such savings can be realized by systematically eliminating the for-profit fees and incentives that are deeply embeded throughout the current system, and he stands by his number. "There will be no additional fees, co-pays, pre-approvals, or hours on the phone each month haggling over reimbursements" he said.

The show airs this Sunday at 7 PM on channel 23 in Manchester, and can be found on-line at

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