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Single-payer health care group to be in city

February 7, 2019

Advocates of a government-run, single-payer health insurance system hope to mobilize supporters in Fort Wayne this weekend as part of a nationwide campaign.

National Nurses United has organized the National Medicare for All Week of Action, which begins Saturday and lasts through Feb. 13. Five “barnstorm” events are planned for cities in Indiana.

The local event will be at 1 p.m. Sunday in Conference Room A of the downtown Allen County Public Library. Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan and the progressive group Our Revolution are assisting National Nurses United with the program, which is open to the public. 

Rachel Rose Reagan of Fort Wayne will lead the gathering. Reagan said she’s a stay-at-home mother and that two of her three children have life-threatening food allergies.

“If nurses are calling out for Medicare for all, and studies show it would save the average American money by using our resources more effectively, then I’m on board,” Reagan said in an email.

National Nurses United says it has 150,000 members and is the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses. 

The audience at Sunday’s event will be encouraged to canvass neighborhoods, participate in phone banks and host house parties in an effort to spread public support for single-payer medical insurance, Reagan said.

She said she will be the main speaker but is “more excited to hear from my neighbors and new friends how they feel about helping their families and communities by equalizing the ability for people to easily get their medical needs met.”

She said that “connecting with each other is how we have real change.” 

Proponents of a federal Medicare-for-all plan contend it would guarantee comprehensive medical coverage for the general population, reduce patient costs by eliminating insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments, and relieve employers from having to provide insurance to their workers. Opponents of such a system argue it would increase taxes and government spending, extend patient wait times and depress private-sector competition.

Polling in January by Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 56 percent of Americans favor a Medicare-for-all plan. The same poll found that far larger majorities favored incremental changes, including a Medicare buy-in plan for adults between the ages of 50 and 64.

The Commonwealth Fund reported today that the percentage of American adults who are uninsured dropped from 20 percent in 2010, the year the federal Affordable Care Act became law, to 12.4 percent last year. But the 2018 rate was unchanged from 2016.

The Commonwealth Fund also said the rate of underinsured adults : people who have high insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket costs relative to their income : climbed from 23 percent in 2014 to 29 percent last year, with the greatest growth occurring among people with job-related coverage.

Employer-provided insurance “is facing a crisis now that is related to the escalating health care costs and the limited options available to them to manage those costs,” Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a conference call with news media.

The report by the Commonwealth Fund, which advocates for a high-performing health care system, was based on a survey of 4,225 adults ages 19 to 65 from July through mid-November.  

bfrancisco@jg.net

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