The League of Women Voters believes that “ The U.S. Health care system should provide a basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost to all U.S. residents. Basic care includes disease prevention, primary care (including prenatal and reproductive health), acute long-term care, mental health care, as well as health promotion and education. Health care policy goals should include the equitable distribution of services and delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology, and a reasonable total national expenditure level.”
House bill 7285, introduced on January 25, and Senate bill 2237, introduced on February 1,swould institute Single Payer health insurance for Rhode Islanders. This language from the bill describes why the bill is needed. You can read the entire bills by going to the Secretary of State’s web page ((http://sos.ri.gov/divisions/open-government), selecting “Legislation”, then Bill Status, and typing in the bill numbers.
CHAPTER 95 6 THE RHODE ISLAND COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM 7 23-95-1. Legislative findings. (a) The general assembly finds the following:
(1) Rising health care costs are a major economic threat to Rhode Islanders:
Between 1991 and 2014, health care spending in Rhode Island per person rose by over 250% – rising much faster than income and greatly reducing disposable income; and
It is estimated that by 2025, the cost of health insurance for an average family of four (4) will equal about one-half (1/2) of their annual income; and
In the U.S., about two-thirds (2/3) of personal bankruptcies have been medical cost related and of these, about three-fourths (3/4) of those bankrupted had health insurance; and
Rhode Island private businesses bear most of the costs of employee health insurance coverage and spend significant time and money choosing from a confusing array of increasingly expensive plans which do not provide comprehensive coverage; and
Rhode Island employees and retirees are losing significant wages and pensions as they are forced to pay higher amounts of health insurance and health care costs; and
The state and its municipalities face enormous other post employment benefits (OPEB) unfunded liabilities mostly due to health insurance costs.) Although Rhode Island significantly expanded health care coverage for its citizens 24 under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is not enough: Currently, about forty-seven thousand (47,000) Rhode Islanders remain uninsured, and even fully implemented, the ACA would leave forty-two thousand (42,000) Rhode Islanders - four percent (4%) uninsured and many more underinsured - resulting in many excess deaths; and
Efforts at the federal level to repeal or defund the ACA severely threaten the health 29 and welfare of Rhode Island citizens. The U.S. has hundreds of health insurance providers (i.e., multiple "payers") who make our health care system unjustifiably expensive and ineffective: Every industrialized nation in the world, except the United States, offers universal health care to its citizens under a "single payer" program and enjoys better health outcomes for about one-half (1/2) the cost;
About one-third (1/3) of every health care dollar spent in the U.S. goes towards administrative costs (e.g., paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits) rather than on actual health care.
The solution is for Rhode Island to institute an improved Medicare-for-all style single payer program: Health care is rationed under our current multi-payer system, despite the fact that Rhode Islanders already pay enough money to have comprehensive and universal health insurance under a single-payer system; and
Single payer health care would establish a true "free market" system where doctors compete for patients rather than health insurance companies dictating which patients are able to see which doctors and setting reimbursement rates; and
The high costs of medical care could be lowered significantly if the state could negotiate on behalf of all its residents for bulk purchasing, as well as gain access to usage and price information currently kept confidential by private health insurers as "proprietary information;" and
In 1962, Canada's successful single payer program began in the province of Saskatchewan (with approximately the same population as Rhode Island) and became a national program within ten (10) years; and
Single payer would provide comprehensive coverage that will include vision, hearing and dental care, mental health and substance abuse services, as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments; and
Health care providers will spend significantly less time with administrative work caused by multiple health insurance company requirements and barriers to care delivery and will spend significantly less for overhead costs because of streamlined billing.
Rhode Island must act because there are currently no effective state or federal laws that can adequately control rising premiums, co-pays, deductibles and medical costs, or prevent private insurance companies from continuing to limit available providers and coverage.
Legislative purpose. It is the intent of the general assembly that this act establish a universal, comprehensive, affordable single-payer health care insurance program that will help control health care costs which shall be referred to as, "the Rhode Island comprehensive health insurance program" (RICHIP). The program will be paid for by consolidating government and private payments to multiple insurance carriers into a more economical and efficient improved Medicare-for-all style single payer program and substituting lower progressive taxes for higher health insurance LC003273 premiums, co-pays, deductibles and costs in excess of caps. This program will save Rhode Islanders from the current overly expensive, inefficient and unsustainable multi-payer health insurance system that unnecessarily prevents access to medically necessary health care.