SINGLE PAYER: THE SOLUTION TO THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS
Adopted at 2009 Annual Convention, Augusta
The Maine Green Independent Party has always advocated that health care must be a human right for all, and not a privilege for those who can pay, or a source of profit-making. We further believe that health is both a personal and a community responsibility.
Under a universal national single-payer health care system, we would pay less and receive more. The administrative waste of private insurance corporations (37 per cent of health dollars) would be redirected to patient care. The General Accounting Office of Congress has concluded that: "If the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer plan ... the savings in administrative costs would be more than enough to offset the cost." According to Harvard researchers, the United States would save more than $200 billion dollars a year if we converted to a national universal single payer health care system. A single-payer system would allow the reorganization of existing health care expenditures toward substantial savings and broader coverage.
Businesses currently providing employment-based benefits would see their costs reduced. State and local governments would pay less because they would receive reimbursement for services provided to the previously uninsured, and because public programs would cease to be the dumping ground for high-risk patients and those rejected by HMO's when they become disabled and unemployed.
Most importantly, the people of America will gain the peace of mind of knowing that needed health care will always be available to them. No longer will people have to worry about facing financial disaster if they get seriously ill, get laid off their job, or are injured in an accident. No longer will anyone have to put off addressing serious health problems for lack of coverage. We will all receive the same benefits that people in all the other developed countries have enjoyed for a long time: better quality health care, more preventive services, less cost, predictable coverage, and hopefully improved health statistics.
A universal, comprehensive, national single-payer health plan will provide, with no increase in cost:
- Lifetime benefits for everyone
- No one will lose coverage for any reason
- No co-pays
- No deductibles
- No bill for service
- Freedom to choose whatever type of health provider you wish, providing a wide range of health care services in private offices and public institutions
- A publicly funded and administered health care program
- Health decision-making back in the hands of health providers and their patients, where it belongs
- Comprehensive benefits, as good or better than existing plans, including dental, vision, mental health care, audiology, hospice, long-term care, substance abuse treatment and prescription medication coverage.
- Emphasis on preventative health care to promote healthy behaviors and practices
- All licensed and/or certified health providers may participate, subject to standards of practice in their profession
- Health plan benefits are portable; they go wherever you go
- Primary and preventive care are priorities in the plan
- Greatly reduced paperwork for both patients and providers
- Providers receive fair and full reimbursement for their services in a timely manner
- Preservation of all health care services currently available
- Cost controls via streamlined administration, global health care budgets, national fee schedules, bulk purchases of drugs and medical equipment, and coordination of capital expenditures
- Hospitals can afford safe staffing levels for registered nurses
Establish national, state, and local Health Policy Boards consisting of members representing health consumers and providers to oversee and evaluate the performance of the system, expand access to care, and determine research priorities. All meetings of the boards shall be open to the public.
Establish a National Health Trust Fund and channel all current Federal payments for health care programs directly into the Fund, in addition to employers' and employees' health premium payments.
Funding to provide two years of salary benefits and retraining to people whose jobs are eliminated due to implementation of the new system.
Recognizing that human health is also affected by the health of our environment, the Maine Green Independent Party supports policies that would promote both human health and the health of our ecosystems:
- Eliminate the emission of toxins that pollute the environment and harm our health
- Improve identification and regulation of agricultural and industrial pollutants
- Eliminate the use of herbicides
- Mandate the labeling of all 'foods' that have been genetically engineered, irradiated, or to which chemical pesticides have been applied
- Fund research into the cause, prevention, and treatment of disease, including the ways in which toxic chemicals cause disease
Implementation of a national single payer health care system would create 2.6 million jobs in the national economy; this is a net figure that takes into account jobs that would be lost. Indeed, establishing a single payer health care system could pull the economy out of its quagmire by creating new jobs doing meaningful work, thus solving two crises at once.
Water Rights Position Statement
Adopted at 2009 Annual Convention, Augusta
Water is essential for life, both for people and for ecological systems, which give life to all species. We all have a duty to safeguard the water both on and beneath the Earth's surface, and in the process protect the rights of the people in the communities of Maine, and the rights of the ecosystems of which we are a part.
The Maine Green Independent Party is dedicated to the principle that access to clean water is a human right. All water is held in the public trust as a common resource to be used for the benefit of the people of Maine and for the benefit of the natural ecosystems.
The Maine Green Independent Party opposes the commodification and corporatization of water supplies. We believe that privatization of water and large-scale extraction of ground water resources for corporate profit should be prohibited, especially when it causes damage to natural communities and ecosystems.
We recognize that multinational corporations are interested in controlling Maine's abundant water resources because they are positioning to capitalize on the emerging crisis of global water scarcity.
The Maine Green Independent Party believes that corporations should not be allowed to usurp our rights by asserting that they have the same civil and political rights that people have. Corporations should not be allowed to block our local authority and democratic processes in order to profit from our water resources, which are held for the common good. Therefore, the MGIP believes that corporations should be prohibited from holding the rights of personhood under the law.
Water rights activists in Maine have organized very effective opposition to these attempts at corporate exploitation of water resources by passing ordinances that protect local home rule.
Local communities and indigenous peoples must at all times have local democratic control over decision-making regarding water issues. We recognize the stake that future generations have in those critical decisions.
We depend on a finite supply of fresh water. We recognize the importance of prioritizing the availability of affordable drinking water and water supply needed for agriculture over industrial uses.
We must protect the diversity of plant and animal life that depends on long-enduring ecosystems, and recognize the necessity of water systems to all life.
The threats to our waters are many, from depleted aquifers, to pollution of surface waters, to the degradation of oceanic waters that have been treated as international waste dumps.
We support efforts to protect watersheds, outlaw pollution, promote conservation, protect local control, and integrate sustainable land use with water supply.
Home Rule Position Statement
Adopted at 2009 Annual Convention, Augusta
Home Rule is grounded in many sources.
The Maine Constitution, Article I:
Section 1: All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
Section 2: All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.
Article VIII. Part Second. Municipal Home Rule.
Section 1. Power of municipalities to amend their charters. The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or general law, which are local and municipal in character. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.
If the individual retains the inalienable right to enjoy life, liberty, happiness and safety, it must necessarily follow that those rights demand the right to self-government. And that right to self-government belongs to the majority, not to a privileged minority (corporations) that seeks only their private goals. State and local laws that favor private businesses over local self-governance rights are attacks on the inalienable rights enumerated above.
Communities have a right to pass ordinances that are an expression of the rights held by the people of a given community, and which are protective of the physical, natural, social, governmental, cultural and community values of the people. And, these rights are superior to the rights of corporate creations of the state. Neither the states, nor the courts, have authority to delegate away the rights of the people. If there is an absolute right to self-government, then there is by definition an indefeasible right to community self-government. If community self-government is denied, then the entire right to self-government is denied.
However, corporate and statist interests in Maine are fighting communities throughout the state that seek to prevent the destruction and depletion of our natural resources, which are part of the commons and the property of the people. The Maine Green Independent Party supports the struggles of communities against corporate usurpation of groundwater (Nestle/Poland Spring), forced acceptance of industrial wind farms (First Wind, Transcanada), out of state waste (Casella), meaningless conservation for massive development (Plum Creek), and other similar attacks on the power of Mainers to protect their communities.