Health Care for All // MPIRG, being one of the largest public interest groups within our state, recognizes the need for real health care reform. This is arguably the largest public interest issue of our generation – the health care crisis is affecting more than 47 million Americans who remain uninsured (close to 500,000 within our state alone), while tens of millions of Americans and thousands more Minnesotans worry about losing their existing coverage due to recent unemployment, rising premiums, and denial of claims.
We believe all families deserve the security that comes from a health care system that guarantees them access based on need rather than income. The problem is multi-faceted, and therefore requires a comprehensive solution. Recognizing that the recent federal reform did not go far enough in addressing the major issues within our current system, we are working to build a massive grassroots movement that will sweep across Minnesota and build support for a health care solution that truly addresses and fixes the flaws in our current system: The Minnesota Health Plan. The Minnesota Health Plan is a single-payer system for all Minnesotans, that will control the rising costs, broaden accessibility, and increase the quality of care we receive.
The Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition is dedicated to establishing comprehensive single-payer health care for all Minnesotans through advocacy, education, lobbying, and community organizing. Their belief is that health care is an essential human need and that unequal access to health care is an injustice. A single-payer system is the only system that can provide comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care for each and every person.
MPIRG has and will continue to fight to hold Congress and our state legislature accountable on this critical issue. It is time they begin to put the interests of the public before those of special interests. It takes financial support and a strong membership base to have an impact on this issue. Your contribution at this time means we can win and make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans. With your support, we continue to fight for a better tomorrow: a tomorrow where all Minnesotans have access to quality, affordable health care.
Background // The American health care system is broken. Despite spending more on health care than any other country in the world, the US is one of the few developed nations not to cover all citizens (1). In fact, the United States is the only democratic country in the world with a substantial uninsured population (2).
In a nation where coverage is most often employer-provided, the current economic recession and rising unemployment rates means that more and more people are losing coverage while simultaneously losing their source of income. Furthermore, having a job does not guarantee one coverage: new employees often have to wait months to qualify, employers often do not cover persons working less than full time, including seasonal or temporary workers, and small businesses often cannot afford to offer care. The need for health care reform is now more pressing than ever.
The US health care system is a confusing mix of public and private programs that leaves significant segments of the population without coverage. According to a 2007 survey of health coverage in Minnesota, people with the lowest incomes (100 percent of poverty or below) had uninsurance rates nearly 2.5 times the statewide rate. Despite the potential for access to public coverage, the uninsurance rates for the lowest three income groups are all significantly higher than the state overall. Furthermore, 31.9% of Minnesotans were eligible for neither employer coverage nor coverage through a public program (3). Young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 years had the highest rates of uninsurance, followed by persons 25-34 (4). Nationally, the uninsurance rates are even higher: 27.5% for 18-24 year-olds and 25.9% for 25-34 year-olds (5). As is, the system leaves uncovered those who are least likely to be able to shell out the high premiums that come with purchasing individual coverage.
In an effort to control spending, private insurance companies in the US have increasingly utilized health maintenance organizations (HMOs). HMOs have successfully reduced costs by eliminating some unnecessary procedures (6), but in some cases they have denied coverage of necessary procedures, and most restrict patient choice to a certain set of doctors and hospitals, offering little or no coverage for “out of network” care (7).
In fact, medical expenses like these are closely linked to bankruptcy in the United States, with more than half of all bankruptcies citing such expenses as a cause (8). Further illuminating is the fact that those facing medical bankruptcies were usually working or middle class homeowners, often with college degrees, and medical debtors were no less likely than other debtors to have insurance coverage at the time of filing (9).
Navigating the confusing assortment of private insurance plans and the myriad public programs that exist can be complicated. That’s where MPIRG’s work on this issue comes in: providing resources to help students understand the current systems and choose wisely among their options. This information here and the guide that accompanies it will discuss past attempts at legislative reform and highlight current legislation, as well as connect Minnesota’s students with health and legal resources within their communities. Health care in America is in need of reform.
MPIRG's Position // MPIRG believes that any health care reform must work to improve accessibility, affordability, and quality while guaranteeing access to all Americans. We continue to work to improve the federal health care reform legislation as well as make sure it is implemented at the state level. However, on the state level, MPIRG has officially endorsed the Minnesota Health Plan, a single-payer health care solution being proposed by Senator Marty and Representative Bly. Read more below...
Minnesota Health Act
SF 118 / HF 135
Authors: Sen. Marty, Rep. Bly
The MN Health Plan is a comprehensive, single-payer health care plan. Patients would retain choice in medical providers, but all payments, covering all costs, would be made by the MN Health Plan.
Minnesota Health Security Act
SF 009 / HF 174
Authors: Sen. Lourey, Rep. Thissen
Under the Minnesota Health Security Act, all children (up to age 21) would be eligible for comprehensive health coverage by 2010. Adults would be provided with access to coverage for which they pay no more than 5% of their family income by 2012
Links and Resources
Health Care Glossary
1. University of Maine. Bureau of Labor Education. The US Health Care System: Best in the World, or Just the Most Expensive? University of Maine, Summer 2001. Web. 22 June 2009. <http://dll.umaine.edu/ble/U.S.%20HCweb.pdf>. p. 2
2. Oberlander, Jonathan. "The US Health Care System: On a Road to Nowhere?" Canadian Medical Association Journal 167.2 (2002): 163-68. p. 163
4. United States. Minnesota Department of Health. Access to Care and Health Status Among Uninsured Minnesotans, 2007. Health Economics Program, Apr. 2009. Web. 19 June 2009.
5. United States. National Center for Health Statistics. 2007 National Health Interview Survey - Early Release. Center for Disease Control, June 2008. Web. 20 June 2009.
6. Oberlander 167
7. Ibid 166
8. Himmelstein, David U., Elizabeth Warren, Deborah Thorne, and Steffie Woolhandler. "Illness and Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy." Health Affairs (2005): 63-73. Health Affairs. Market Watch, Feb. 2005. Web. 21 June 2009. <http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/reprint/hlthaff.w5.63v1.pdf>. 66