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Health Care:A Guide to Citizen Action
New Normal 2012: Get Connected!
New Normal 2012: Get Connected! Health Care
Understand the Challenges
The best way to ensure access to care under our current health care system, according to Minnesota Compass, is health insurance. The uninsured are less likely to receive preventative care or care for routine medical conditions and injuries. This can lead to more serious illnesses and health problems, resulting in hospitalization or death. Both the uninsured and the insured feel the impact financially.
Clearly the current system is fraught with problems, however. People are locked into jobs out of fear of losing coverage, denied coverage due to preexisting conditions, terminated from policies when they need them most.
Physicians for a National Health Program Minnesota (PNHP) says that the U.S. spends more on health care and gets less in return than the rest of the world because we have a “patchwork system” of for‐profit private insurers. PNHP reports that nearly one‐third of all health dollars in the country go to overhead, underwriting, billings, sales, marketing, profits, and exorbitant executive pay.
These are only some of the reasons that reforms have long been sought from various quarters. The Heri‐ tage Foundation, one of the nation’s most prominent conservative think tanks, cited numerous problems with the existing system in 1989. In “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” it proposed that all households in the U.S. be mandated to obtain adequate insurance. Lower‐income households who could not reasonably afford to meet that obligation would become part of a high‐risk pool whose care would be subsi‐ dized by taxpayers. The Heritage Foundation would later endorse the idea of insurance exchanges. If all of this sounds familiar it’s because these are elements of health care reforms enacted in Massachusetts, under Governor Mitt Romney, and by President Barack Obama with the Affordable Care Act.
For many reform advocates, the Affordable Care Act isn’t nearly expansive enough. Growth & Justice contends that while tens of millions of Americans have already benefited from many of the Affordable Care Act’s reforms, “Reforms in the United States have focused on increasing access to health insurance, but insurance is not health care.” It reports that “a quarter of a million Minnesotans will remain uninsured and unable to access the care they need.” Health Care for All Minnesota, like Growth & Justice and PNHP holds that, “A single‐payer system is the only system that can provide comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care for each and every person.”
Meanwhile, critics on the right charge that the Affordable Care Act is intrusive. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has said that he has no intention of expanding Medicaid or establishing a health insurance exchange, two of the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions. He calls them: “brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.”
Learn and Act
Know the Facts
In the United States, there are 46.4 million uninsured residents, or 16 percent of the population.
The number rises significantly when inadequately covered Americans are added.
In Minnesota, there are approximately 463,000 uninsured residents, nine percent of the population.
In Massachusetts, there are roughly 328,000 uninsured, five percent of that state’s population.
By contrast, in Texas there are 6.2 million uninsured—25 percent of the population, 33 percent of adults. In Houston, the state’s largest city, the percentage of uninsured is 30 percent. It’s 37 percent in Brownsville. (Sources: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Texas Medical Association.)
More than four out of five of Minnesota’s uninsured residents, 82 percent, belong to working families.
Although whites account for the largest number of unin‐ sured Minnesotans, residents of color are far likelier to be uninsured: 26 percent of Latinos, 18 percent of Afri‐ can Americans, 14 percent of American Indians, 12 or Asian Americans, compared to 7.6 percent of whites without health insurance in 2011.
Minnesota has some of the greatest disparities in health status between populations of color/American Indians and whites in the U.S.
The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $8,160 per capita.
The U.S. is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system.
Administration of private insurance plans consumes nearly one‐third of every health care dollar spent.
In 2007, 62.1 percent of personal bankruptcy filings, nationally, cited high medical expenses as a cause, and most had insurance; this according to the American Journal of Medicine.
There are lots of resources to help ground you in facts. Here are some places to start online:
- These are some of the health care advocacy organizations that provide opportunities for civic engagement:
- Health Care for All Minnesota (HCAMN): a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing comprehensive single payer health care for all Minnesotans through advocacy, education, lobbying, and community organizing.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness; offers resources and tips for lobbying legislators and “setting the record straight” through media.
- Northpoint Health & Wellness Center: a multi specialty medical, dental, and mental health center and human service agency located in North Minneapolis.
- Physicians for a National Health Program Minnesota: a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive, single payer, national health care program; the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing such a program.
|Specific Things You Can Do|
Twin Cities Media Alliance offers several ways to stay informed, connected, and engaged through the Twin Cities Daily Planet, including:
>Citizen journalism classes
>Social media classes
>Social media clinics
>An annual fall media forum
For more information, contact Marcos Lopez-Carlson: marcos [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net
New Normal 2012 is a project of the Twin Cities Media Alliance and Twin Cities Daily Planet, supported by a generous grant from the Bush Foundation.
For More Information: Contact Bruce Johansen: brucejohansen [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net
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