Friday, December 28, 2007

Business Benefits from National Health Insurance

Business Benefits from National Health Insurance
By Jerome Grossman

Alone among the nations of the world, the U. S. has relied upon private health insurance to cover the majority of its population, but far from all - 47 million are left out. This system is inefficient: it costs too much and the business community overpays. The private insurance industry spends about 20% of its revenue on administration, marketing, and profits. Further, the industry imposes on physicians, hospitals and businesses an administrative burden in billing and insurance related functions that consume another 12% of insurance premiums. Thus, fully one third of insurance premiums could be drastically reduced if we were to finance health care through expansion of government – run Medicare to every U.S. citizen. Medicare overhead is estimated to be about three percent.

Most of these unnecessary costs are borne by U.S. business, now held captive by the Washington lobbying of the private insurance industry. It is time for the advocates of a single-payer, (the US government) to make common cause with business interests to modernize the health system in the interest of delivering a better health product, eliminating unnecessary costs, and making U.S. business more competitive around the world. The Committee for Economic Development, a high powered business group, says, “The competitiveness of American firms is threatened by the cost of health insurance.” U.S. business has no obligation to insurance companies. It should pass the cost of insurance to the government just as it does when it lays off thousands of unneeded workers.

The recent agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers featured an important change in the health-care obligations of GM. No longer will they be in the health-care field, but will devote all their energies to their own products. Their competitive position will be improved as they are freed from the ever-growing costs of health care.

Some business executives believe that this model should be applied to all companies so that the responsibility for the health-care of the nation would be assumed by the Federal Government, paid for by general tax revenues. The objectives would be to lower the cost of health care, to include all Americans and to help business become more competitive by eliminating a major expense.

Here are ten reasons why business should support national health insurance as developed by Physicians for a National Health Program

10. National Health Insurance will reduce liability insurance and workers compensation costs.

9. National Health Insurance will eliminate the constant headaches of running a health benefits bureaucracy, annual negotiations with insurance companies, etc.

8. National Health Insurance will limit complaints by employers over rising premiums and co-pays and conflicts with labor unions over benefit cuts, givebacks, etc..

7. National Health Insurance will reduce the incentive to hire part-time workers and enable them to attract better employees.

6. National Health Insurance will curb health-related bankruptcies, reduce health spending by low income workers, and free up money for consumer spending.

5. National Health Insurance will reduce the cost of providing health benefits

4. National Health Insurance will eliminate retiree benefit costs for those with obligations to provide coverage.

3. National Health Insurance will eliminate unfair competition from employers who don't provide insurance.

2. National Health Insurance will reduce absenteeism and produce a healthy and more productive work force.

And the number one reason for National Health Insurance from a business perspective is….

1. National Health Insurance will allow health-care costs to be controlled and predictable, eliminating it major source of business uncertainty and a barrier to planning.

And, oh yes, it's the right and moral thing to do.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Most Important Issue

The Most Important Issue
By Jerome Grossman

President Ronald Reagan said that nuclear weapons are “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.” On March 23, 1983, President Reagan's proposed to “eliminate the weapons themselves.” In 1985, at their Geneva Summit Conference, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made their joint statement that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

In January 2007, a conference on nuclear weapons was held at the very conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Four of the participants produced an article “A world free of nuclear weapons” that appeared in the Wall Street Journal: Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under President Nixon, George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Reagan, William Perry, Secretary of Defense under President Clinton, and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. All were conservatives; two were Republicans, two Democrats. All knew a lot about nuclear weapons. They quoted Reagan and spoke from experience, urging implementation of the neglected goal of worldwide nuclear arsenal reductions, negotiated in full embrace of the ideal of abolition.

The four conservative gurus had a political plan-to insert into the presidentential campaign a serious discussion of the most important issue facing the United States and the world. Their conservative backgrounds would allow their ideas about nuclear security to be accepted as a framework for a national colloquy, bypassing the prejudice against liberals and peaceniks in imperial America.

However, it did not happen. The Republican candidates simply ignored the issue. The Democrats acknowledged the dangers, but chose to focus their campaigns on Iraq, healthcare, immigration, personality and electability. For the media and the organizers of the repetitious and boring debates, nuclear weapons abolition was ignored.

But the real failure must be assigned to the voters who have not demanded answers from the candidates. They know that the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia are powerful enough to irradiate the entire planet, to threaten the existence of the human species, to destroy civilization. They must realize that if North Korea, Iran and Pakistan can manufacture nuclear weapons, that capability is within the range of dozens of other countries, that nuclear weapons are the great equalizers reducing the great powers’ ability to use conventional force. And nuclear terrorism may be just around the corner.

It is only a few minutes before midnight on the atomic clock. Time for a wakeup and time to prepare for abolition by adopting:
A declaration of no first use of nuclear weapons
A universal policy of taking all nukes off hair trigger alert
An international plan to secure all nuclear materials
A ban on building new nukes
A ban on all nukes in space
Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Reductions in the size of nuclear forces in all states that possess them

Voters of America: ask your favorite candidates for President, Senate, and House of Representatives what they are doing to save the world from nuclear annihilation -- the most important issue of our time.


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