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The United States National Health Care Act, H.R. 676 - Single Payer

Introduced by Rep. John Conyers.

This article: http://www.healthcare-now.org/hr-676/ The full bill: http://www.pnhp.org/docs/nhi_bill_final1.pdf

Annotated version of the bill: http://www.healthcare-now.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/annotated676.pdf

More Information: http://www.johnconyers.com/healthcare

Brief Summary of the Legislation:

The United States National Health Care Act establishes a unique American national universal health insurance program. The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered healthcare system that uses the already existing Medicare program by expanding and improving it to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that all Americans will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective healthcare services regardless of their employment, income, or healthcare status. With over 45-75 million uninsured Americans, and another 50 million who are under- insured, the time has come to change our inefficient and costly fragmented non-healthcare system. It would end concerns about pre-existing conditions, hidden exclusions, caps, and deductables. It would remove illness as the number one cause of personal bankruptcy. HR676 would replace our current private health care system which costs 2 to 3 times as much as in all other industrialized nations and provides health care results which place last among those nations. These other nations have Single Payer systems.

Eligibility: Every person living or visiting in the United States and the U.S. Territories would receive a United States National Health Insurance Card and ID number once they enroll at the appropriate location. Social Security numbers may not be used when assigning ID cards.

Healthcare Services Covered: This program will cover all medically necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long term care, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment. Patients have their choice of physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics, and practices. No co-pays or deductibles are permissible under this act.

Conversion to Non Profit Health system: Private health insurers shall be prohibited under this act from selling coverage that duplicates the benefits of the USNHI program. Exceptions to this rule include coverage for cosmetic surgery, and other medically unnecessary treatments. Those who are displaced as the result of the transition to a non- profit healthcare system are the first to be hired and retrained under this act.

Cost Containment/Reimbursement: The National USNHI program will set reimbursement rates annually for physicians, allow for global budgets (annual lump sums for operating expenses) for healthcare providers; and negotiate prescription drug prices. A “Medicare For All Trust Fund” will be established to ensure a dedicated stream of funding, as well as an annual appropriation to ensure optimal levels of funding for the program. The conversion to a not-for-profit healthcare system will take place over a 15 year period, through the sale of U.S. treasury bonds.

HR 676 would Reduce Overall Healthcare Costs

Families Pay Less: A study by nationally recognized economist, Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic Research and Policy concluded that under H.R. 676, a family of three making $40,000 per year would spend approximately $1900 per year for healthcare coverage. Currently, (in 2007) the average annual premium for families covered under an employee health plan is $11,000. (National Coalition on Health Care.)

Businesses Pay Less: In 2005, without reform, the average employer that offers coverage was contributing $2,600 to healthcare per employee (for much skimpier benefits), or 217.00 per month. Under HR 676, the average costs to employers for an employee making $30,000 per year will be reduced to $1,425 per year; or about $119.00 per month.

Baker’s study reported that HR 676 would reduce health spending in 2005 from $1.918 trillion dollars to 1.861 trillion dollars. This is a savings of $56 billion (3%) in overall healthcare spending while covering all of the uninsured and underinsured.

Proposed Funding For HR 676 Program

Maintain current federal and state funding for existing healthcare programs; add an employer payroll tax of 4.5%, an employee payroll tax of 3.3%, in addition to the already existing 1.45% for Medicare; establish a 5% health tax on the top 5% of income earners; 10% tax on top 1% of wage earners, 1/3rd of 1% stock transaction tax, close corporate tax loop-holes; repeal the Bush tax cut for the highest income earners.