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Open Letter to AARP:
Response to AARP Position on H.R. 676 and
Invitation to AARP to Support Single-Payer

Following is an open letter to the American Association of Retired Persons.
The original version of this was sent to AARP on May 1, 2008.
AARP was notified about this web page on May 2, 2008.
Point-by-point facts in response to the AARP position is provided below.
No response has been received.


May 20081

To: AARP Board of Directors and AARP Executive Team

Thanks for providing your position on non-profit single-payer national health insurance (H.R. 676) to your Member Communications team. Your Member Communications department kindly shared your position statements to a fellow AARP member, who shared them with me.

Response — This letter is my personal response to your position.

Thanks providing detailed position statements! My response includes a Point-by-Point section, below, that aligns facts with many of the points of the AARP position on H.R. 676 and on the related points that you made.

AARP Responsiveness to Members — You wrote to my fellow AARP member that you take member inputs into consideration as you formulate AARP’s stance on health care reform. Consider my request here that you support H.R. 676 … non-profit single-payer national health insurance.

Definition. — “Single-Payer” for the rest of this letter means non-profit single-payer national health insurance via the establishment of H.R. 676 into law.

Request for Vigorous Support of Single-Payer

I hereby request that the AARP support what over half of Americans want: Single-Payer. The following links provide solid documentation regarding the degree of support from Americans:

Bar chart with all of the sources provided. Extensive additional documentation of strong support.

My Background

I have been retired for 6 years with a major global manufacturing firm. I have studied single-payer and associated subjects in detail for 4 years, and I devote my life to getting Single-Payer.

I have worked and traveled extensively in European countries. I lived 4.5 years in Canada with my young family. More recently I’ve had additional face-to-face contacts with people from all over the world during the last several years. For example, in November 2007 in Chicago at an international residence I spoke about health care in one-on-one face-to-face contacts with people from 5 other industrialized countries. Their statements could all fit into the idea of having peace of mind.

Peace of Mind Regarding Health Care … and getting it in the U.S.

As a result of my experiences, my contacts and my studies/knowledge of the subject, I know with deep appreciation what it means to have the Peace of Mind of living in a country that has Health Care for All with non-profit financing. I want it for the United States.

A growing number of U.S. citizens are becoming educated about this subject. Many of us have been and will continue to be educating citizens. We will get others to the same. We will make it happen sooner rather than later.

Clear Conflict of Interest and Failure to Include a Comment About It

AARP should represent the will of the people. It is plainly wrong that AARP would do anything in the way of promoting health reform unless its position conforms to the American public’s will, which is Single-Payer as per the documentation that I referenced above. AARP very clearly has a conflict of interest in this matter, yet you make no reference to that in your reply to my fellow AARP member. That is clearly wrong, whether it’s wrong legally or ethically.


Point-By-Point Facts in Response

AARP Points are from the AARP Position on H.R. 676


AARP POINT — “AARP strongly believes comprehensive healthcare reform that guarantees coverage, improves quality, and lowers costs”

FACTS — Since that is what AARP strongly believes, then AARP should be strongly supporting Single-Payer. —- Why? Because it’s the best solution.

Why is Single-Payer the Best Solution?

Demonstrated and Chosen.

A non-profit solution is in place in every other industrialized country in the world. Taiwan studied 10-15 countries and chose single-payer as the best solution. You can see this at … the documentary “Sick Around the World.” Select “Five Capitalist Democracies & How They Do It”

Cost

  • Because it’s the first step that any nation should take when it comes to reducing costs. For years people in other countries have been wondering why the U.S. does not take that step. The General Accounting Office reported in 1991 to the U.S. Congress that single-payer would allow coverage of all the uninsured by the savings in administrative costs. State-by-state economic studies have documented since then that single-payer is a good solution from a cost perspective. If you want references, I’ve got them.
  • Because Americans want the situation that other countries have,
    • where no one can go bankrupt due to medical bills
    • where the costs per person are much lower and up to $9,400 per yr can be saved for a family (vs. $2,500 per yr according to one presidential candidate’s proposal) – See the Costs and Savings

A True Guarantee, not just a declaration of being guaranteed.

The only way to absolutely guarantee that health care will be provided is to have it be a human right as the starting point … have it be automatically provided without question. That’s a key aspect of Single-Payer.

Coverage

Because, just like other industrialized countries have demonstrated, a non-profit solution allows pre-natal through end-of-life care at a low cost. The data is overwhelmingly documented on this point, as seen in a bar chart and graph combination, where it clearly shows that we SPEND WAY MORE THAN TWICE as much as other countries, but we LIVE SHORTER LIVES than 27 other countries!

 

AARP POINT – ” … H.R. 676 does not address the problem of increasing healthcare costs.”

FACT – Single-Payer SLASHES COSTS! The Single-Payer savings per family and per single-person and per business are all “off the charts.” as some people might say. See this web page … (same as noted above about saving up to $9,400 / yr per family): – See the Costs and Savings.

 

AARP POINT – “Additionally, H. R. 676 essentially eliminates Medicare, Medicaid, and the SCHIP programs that have served the American public well for many years.”

FACTS – Medicare is the starting point for Single-Payer, so it’s excellent that you feel so positive about Medicare. It’s title, as you documented, is the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.” Single-Payer will use exactly the same ten regions that are already established. As far as other programs are concerned, the governmental federal and state bureaucracy must be slashed in favor of the simplicity and efficiency of one system. Single-Payer slashes both for-profit health insurance bureaucracy and governmental bureaucracy and their excessive administrative spending. We must have both efficiency and productivity in the new system of financing that so many Americans are expecting. Otherwise it will fail.

 

AARP POINT – “Reinventing the wheel” with a new single-payer program will not eliminate the problems Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP currently face, such as the spiraling costs of prescription medications, and technological advances that are often not comprehensively tested and proven safe and effective before marketing.

FACTS – An “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” will eliminate the very problems about which you allude. For example, prescription medication prices will be negotiated to save tens of billions of dollars, just like all the other industrialized countries have done for years. Building upon the existing Medicare infrastructure is certainly far from “reinventing the wheel.”

 

AARP POINT – “H. R. 676 does not promote shared responsibility for healthcare coverage among employers, employees and the government - a basic principle of AARP policy.”

FACTS – It is not clear that anyone in AARP has read and studied the H.R. 676 legislation adequately! Single-Payer does the opposite of AARP’s point. Single-Payer’s primary basis of funding is that all employers and all employees will pay for health care as a shared and just contribution. The current Medicare tax will increase from 1.45% to 4.75% and every employee and employer are responsible for automatically paying it from payroll. The increase in taxes are FAR FAR outweighed by the huge savings of no longer paying any for-profit health care premiums.

 

AARP POINT – “The bill would relieve employers and individuals of their obligation to contribute”

FACTS – The opposite is true. The bill will increase the payroll tax obligation of employers and individuals as part of their shared responsibility. Businesses which do not provide any health care benefits to their employees will see their health care costs triple! Fortunately, their resulting lower costs of operation and higher productivity will help to offset the increased payroll costs, as follows …
– 1) less costs due to less employee turnover and training of new employees, because employees won’t be constantly worrying about finding a job with health insurance benefits,
– 2) higher productivity from happier employees, because employees who like a job can keep that job and not worry about health care coverage,
– 3) higher productivity due to improved employee health; both the employer and the primary care physician can promote good health habits and encourage the employee to see their physician early if and when there is a problem, so that the employee can stay healthy, and
– 4) lower costs due to fewer illnesses and deaths, as seen at Real People

 

AARP POINT – ” … single-payer system cannot remain solvent.”

FACT – Based on all the facts documented and referenced above, Single-Payer will clearly not only remain solvent, but it potentially could be a major contributor to saving the United States from economic ruin. Single-payer health care is the best solution. It’s the simplest and most efficient. It drastically trims all three types of U.S. health care bureaucracy.

 

AARP POINT – “We believe quality health care and lifetime financial security are the most pressing domestic issues facing our nation. The time for action is now. Therefore, it is vital that Congress deliver healthcare legislation with the strength to elicit bipartisan support and end the gridlock that continues to obstruct positive change in our country.”

FACTS – I and thousands of other activists couldn’t agree more on this point! Yes, we must act now in unison! Please respond positively to this request that you provide vigorous support for Single-Payer!

 

AARP POINT – “We are building .. “Millions of Voices for Change.” We will be collecting your personal stories, concerns and ideas at www.dividedwefail.org and we intend to use these stories to let candidates and elected officials know, the time for action is now. It is critically important for each of us to stand up, speak out and demand action.”

FACT – Stories? We are done telling our stories. Your organization is “reinventing the wheel,” which is exactly what you have falsely accused single-payer activists (supporters of H.R. 676) of doing!
—– As “Citizen L.B.” said so very well on 4/3/2007 at a U.S. Presidential candidate’s community meeting on health care in New Hampshire, we are done telling our stories. You can read the transcript of her words here.
—– Also, thousands of people submitted stories and their pleas for Single-Payer to the Healthcare-Now organization. In the spring of 2007 members of the U.S. Congress received a 141 page booklet in small font print. A link to this excellent document is here, so you can get your own copy here.

 

OTHER PROPOSALS

Proposals other than Single-Payer will increase both the for-profit health insurance bureaucracy and government bureaucracy in an effort to maintain over 1300 for-profit health insurance companies and at the same time have the government spend even more money (one presidential candidate estimates $110 billion) in some desperate attempt to cover the uninsured. All these other proposals are ludicrous, and more Americans are learning to identify them as ludicrous.

CLARIFICATIONS

Clarification #1: Do not assume that I or anyone else has a “single-payer or nothing” attitude. We simply insist on what makes common sense, which is to start with what appears to be (and what so many times has been documented to be) the best non-profit solution and then proceed with the debate about how it will be implemented … with possible considerations of other non-profit alternatives along the way..

Clarification #2: The solution must be non-profit. Nothing else makes any sense. For example, France is sometimes mentioned as a top performer in the area of health. (Of course, France and Germany have done intelligent things like ban smoking in public places in the entire country!) Some people claim that other contries also have health insurance companies. For example, France and Germany have multi-payer insurance systems, but they are highly-regulated, non-profit “sickness insurance funds”.

AARP is “reinventing the wheel” and wasting money

Especially considering your “re-inventing of the wheel” in the last “AARP POINT”, above, your Divided We Fail activities are a waste of money, time and effort. This is a poor way to use the money that you get via AARP member dues. It’s a poor way to use the profits that you make from selling health insurance premiums, including Medicare Advantage supplements that burden the elderly with excessive costs compared to the low or zero cost to them with Single-Payer!

Recommendation – It is recommended that you get some Single-Payer_Education.

Invitation – You are welcome to join me and millions of others in vigorously supporting Single-Payer. We look forward to the teamwork and cooperation. It fits perfectly with your stated philosophy of “together we can do anything.”

Very respectfully yours,

Bob  [with full description provided of my role]

As also stated at the start of this letter, the content of this letter is my personal response to the AARP position on H.R. 676, as AARP communicated below. The content of the letter and all of its details is not necessarily the position of PNHP or Healthcare-Now.


  1. On 4 September 2008, changes were made primarily to improve the formatting and to change the words “private bureaucracy” to the intended “for-profit health insurance bureaucracy.” back

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