The American Prospect Interviews Judy Norsigian on Healthcare Reform

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 9, 2009

Dana Goldstein of The American Prospect interviewed Our Bodies Ourselves Executive Director Judy Norsigian about OBOS’s support of a single-payer health plan.

Though there’s little momentum in Congress around a single-payer plan, Norsigian argues that health reform won’t be sustainable unless costs are controlled, and single payer does more than any other proposal in reigning in administration costs.

Our Bodies Ourselves published a position paper last month outlining the numerous ways a single-payer proposal would benefit women. Some key points:

* The only national plan for health care reform that explicitly includes women’s reproductive health services, including abortion, is HR-3000, which was recently reintroduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

* Single-payer system would eliminate the need for Medicaid.

* Coverage is independent from employment and independent from marriage.

* Single-payer system would address the cost issues that send women into debt and bankruptcy.

For all that’s being written about single-payer these days, there’s still some confusion about how it would be run. As Physicians for  National Health Program explains it:

Single-payer is a term used to describe a type of financing system. It refers to one entity acting as administrator, or “payer.” In the case of health care, a single-payer system would be setup such that one entity — a government run organization — would collect all health care fees, and pay out all health care costs. In the current US system, there are literally tens of thousands of different health care organizations — HMOs, billing agencies, etc.

By having so many different payers of health care fees, there is an enormous amount of administrative waste generated in the system. (Just imagine how complex billing must be in a doctor’s office, when each insurance company requires a different form to be completed, has a different billing system, different billing contacts and phone numbers—it’s very confusing.) In a single-payer system, all hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers would bill one entity for their services. This alone reduces administrative waste greatly, and saves money, which can be used to provide care and insurance to those who currently don’t have it.

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