Universal Health Care New Jersey

Green Party Candidate for Governor Addresses
New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition

On May 6, 2017, New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition had its first semiannual meeting of 2017, and hosted Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale (Green Party Gubernatorial candidate) as the keynote speaker. The event attracted an enthusiastic group of Medicare-for-all supporters, diverse in both age and ideology. All gathered for the same reason-to discuss the organizing ahead to win single payer for New Jersey residents. Representatives from Medicare for All NJ were voted in to join our coalition, and local leaders stepped up to change the stances of the 4 democratic NJ congressmen still not co-sponsoring HR676 (Gottheimer, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell). Additionally, there was interest in targeting one Republican congressman-Leonard Lance.

Following general business, Reverend Kaper-Dale, or as he called himself, Seth, was given the floor. The most striking aspect of his presentation was how much he approached single payer as an ally first, and policy maker second. He insisted that we, the activists, take the leading role in policy creation, crediting organizers in our movement as leading him to his ultimate stance in favor of expanded and improved Medicare for All NJ residents. Single payer activist Ariane Benefit expressed appreciation for “the way [Seth] connected the benefits and cost” of statewide single payer. He emphasized the​ savings achieved by implementing Medicare for All, and connected single payer to other NJ issues, such as ​fixing​ the pension funding problem, and ​ lowering property taxes. This video covers most of Seth’s portion of the program.

Seth Kaper-Dale and Kim Meudt

While there were many Green Party activists in attendance, as their party membership is particularly strong in their support for Medicare for All, and some even made suggestions to promote Seth and the healthcare coalition together on the same outdoor sign, NJUHC Chair Tom Knoche reminded folks that NJUHC is not about endorsing candidates.  We both organize with and target candidates to strengthen the movement; we don’t endorse any of them officially.

Tom Knoche

Wisniewski Champions Healthcare as a Human Right!

December 10 meetingThe large turnout at last Saturday’s NJUHC membership meeting demonstrated the growing interest in single payer health care policy in NJ. The room was over-flowing with single payer supporters representing many different political, labor, health care, religious and advocacy groups as well as many unaffiliated supporters.

WisniewskiAfter the general business meeting, NJUHC Board members addressed how a single payer system would look under NJUHC’s vision. Specifically, the plan is to expand Medicare to serve all NJ residents of all ages, including undocumented people. Medicare has effectively provided comprehensive care with the least administrative cost to millions of retirees and other patients in NJ. With this vision in mind, Assemblyman John Wisniewski began to lead his portion of the meeting, specifically addressing where our efforts stand in the context of NJ’s political climate.

Wisniewski both clarified the challenges we face, and highlighted the distinct advantages we have. Among our challenges, Wisniewski specifically referred to our state’s generally messy political history, Governor Christie’s predictably obstructive tendency to veto most progressive legislation that passes through our legislature, and the moneyed pharmaceutical interest groups we’re up against.

Admitting these challenges, Wisniewski still encouraged us to be hopeful for the future, reminding us that NJ has a predominantly democratic legislature and assembly, and that he himself plans to run for Governor in the next election, and will make single payer one of his key platforms despite the backlash he’ll face for doing so. Wisniewski’s confidence in single payer as good policy, and its inclusion in his platform, suggest our efforts are impacting public opinion about health care in NJ.

Indeed, if a hopeful candidate for the upcoming gubernatorial race would publicly come out in support of single payer, no one can tell us anymore that our cause isn’t politically viable.

A Letter to the New York Times
The Health Law, in the Real World

To the Editor:

As Elisabeth Rosenthal eloquently documents in “Insured, but Not Covered” (news analysis, Sunday Review, Feb. 8), our health insurance system is little better than the nonsystem we had before the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama’s reform was doomed by the failure to exclude the major profit-driven industries (health insurance, drug manufacturers and for-profit, hospital-based medical-industrial corporations) from taking it over and milking it for profits.

Virtually all of the problems (excluding the initial enrollment difficulties) can be attributed to tactics intended to transfer more cost to the consumer (and the government, which is ultimately us), while delivering higher profits for less actual care, which we are discouraged from seeking.

Congressional Republicans propose to turn even more of the system over to private, for-profit entities; instead, we should be instituting “improved Medicare for all.” Covering everyone equally, and eliminating time- and money-consuming confusion with a clearly defined, dependable system, relatively simple to understand and administer, would save billions of dollars while providing better care.

Berkeley Heights, N.J.

The writer is a psychiatrist.

A Letter to the New York Times
The Costs of a Trip to the Doctor

To the Editor:

Re “Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar” (“Paying Till It Hurts” series, front page, Jan. 19):

The American health care system fails irrefutably and unacceptably with its economics and its ethics. How is it acceptable that the other leading countries of the world provide universal health care at half the cost and generally with higher quality?

The increasing national recognition of single-payer (improved Medicare for all) offers a singular and simple solution to both the economics and the ethics of our health care system. Single payer is simple, economical and humane, and it is desperately needed in the United States.

Morristown, N.J., Jan. 20, 2014

The writer, a retired family medicine specialist, is New Jersey chapter president of Physicians for a National Health Program.