The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports HB 3128 which would establish an agency to operate a single-payer universal healthcare insurance system.
We believe that the time has come for the adoption of a universal, single-payer health care system.
The ever-escalating cost of health care is pushing access to health care out of the reach of too many of our citizens. The respected columnist, David Broder, relying on an analysis by Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University, wrote in a Washington Post column, "Without fundamental change, the United States is likely by 2015 to have 54 million uninsured 20% more than today and to be spending 19% of its GDP on health care compared with 15.6% today. (Today, the number of uninsured is cited as 46 million.)
As employers raise the premiums, fees and co-payments charged to employees as part of their insurance plan, what effect will this have on them?
According to a Los Angeles Times story published in the May 29, 2004 issue of the Honolulu Advertiser, Dana Goldman, Director of Health Economics at Rand Health in Santa Monica, California says, "It may end up costing them more in the long run because people will be spending more on emergency room visits and hospitalization."
The article cited the researchers noting that among those with diabetes, asthma, and stomach acid disorders, visits to emergency rooms increased 17% and hospital stays rose 10%.
Premiums for health insurance are going up by double digits much of the time, and the percentage of companies offering health insurance benefits are going down. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the percentage went from 67% in 2000 to 65% in 2001, and to 62% in 2002. It is much lower today.
The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) includes more than 90 organizations ranging from corporations to unions, to church groups to health insurers. They are agreed on 5 principles as a framework for health care reform: health care coverage for all; cost management; improvement of health care quality and safety; equitable financing; and simplified administration. We believe that the system outlined in 3128 can meet these five principles, reducing the cost of health care enough to fold those who are uninsured into the fold of the insured with the cost savings.
Obviously, health reform is needed nation-wide. The League of Women Voters of the United States has universal, single-payer health insurance system on its advocacy program. But rather than wait for a federal program, we believe states can lead the way in solving the health care crisis
We urge the passage of HB 3128.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.