Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Health Care

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2010 PLATFORM CHAPTER 2: Social Justice

F. Health Care

Health care is a right, not a privilege. The Green Party supports a wide range of health care services, not just traditional medicine. The cost of our healthcare system is crippling our economy and restricting economic growth within the U.S. It also necessitates that we import most of our goods from nations with healthcare provision and therefore increases the fuel consumption necessary to get goods to U.S. markets – damaging the health of our residents and our planet.

Although we know that healthcare and health insurance are expensive, we don't realize how expensive healthcare really is because the costs are buried.

In addition to insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays, we pay for healthcare through our taxes. Even if we don't have health insurance ourselves, we're still paying for someone else's healthcare through our taxes!

The many ways we pay for healthcare:

Insurance Premiums Those of us fortunate enough to have adequate access to healthcare pay insurance premiums, or our employers do, or both of us wind up paying.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses There is no insurance plan that does not have deductibles and co-pays. We pay more than $33.9 billion in out-of-pocket expenses annually. (National Institute for Health, 2009)

Federal Income Taxes Federal income taxes pay for Medicare and Medicaid, healthcare for low-income and senior citizens. Additionally, federal taxes pay for the insurance premiums of federal employees, elected officials, and military employees, as well as the healthcare benefits of veterans.

State Income Taxes A portion of our state income taxes also goes to pay for Medicare and Medicaid. Many Medicaid and Medicare recipients are working folks who aren't offered health insurance at work and can't afford it on their own. This means that our income tax dollars not only fund the healthcare of the elderly and poor, but also subsidize profitable businesses. For example, more than ten percent of Wal-Mart employees receive this taxpayer-subsidized benefit, according to an AFL-CIO March 2006 report.

Sales Taxes State employees, including legislators and the governor, have their insurance premiums paid for by the taxpayers. In states where a non-dedicated sales tax is charged those sales taxes pay for their premiums at least in part. When you buy a lawn mower, a car, or clothing, you are paying for state employees' health insurance premiums as well as for the state portion of Medicare and Medicaid.

Death, Gift, Documentary and Stock Transfer Taxes All of these revenue streams go toward paying the same healthcare costs that sales tax dollars pay.

Cigarette Taxes According to the Government Performance Project, which ranks states on their fiscal viability, many states "tobacco funds are earmarked — used mostly for healthcare."

Excise taxes Town and county employees' health insurance premiums are funded through the collection of excise taxes as well as applicable municipal income taxes.

Property taxes Like excise taxes, money generated through property taxes pays for the insurance plans of everyone from sheriff's deputies to town clerks.

Workers Compensation Premiums Workplace-related illnesses and injuries are compensated through workers compensation. According to Insurance Strategies, Ltd., an insurance industry think tank, approximately 50% of workers compensation pays for healthcare. The Remedy 1. The Medicare system, which provides health care for our nation’s elderly as well as impoverished individuals is a viable product and could be made available to all U.S. citizens. The Green Party supports this Medicare for all option as put forth by a number of our nations representatives; most consistently and famously by Congressman John Conyers who has biannually introduced his HR676 and has over the decades had hundreds of congressional co-sponsors.

2. 70% to 85% of illness in America is due to unmanaged stress. This means that national measures to reduce work hours, promote cyber-commuting for work, and increased vacation time for workers will significantly improve the public's health. We advocate access for all, irrelevant of income, to stress management training such as meditation techniques, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and biofeedback.

3. A large percentage of illness is diet-related; therefore, improving the quality of our nation's food supply and our personal eating habits will lessen the strain on our health care system. We advocate subsidies for organic foods, as well as removing sugar/caffeine snacks from schools. This could save our nation as much as $700 to $850 billion of the $1 trillion annual health costs.

4. We support the teaching of holistic health approaches and, as appropriate, the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, acupuncture, and other healing approaches.

5. We call for wider implementation of hospice care.

6. We oppose the arrest, harassment or prosecution of anyone involved in any aspect of the production, cultivation, transportation, distribution or consumption of medicinal marijuana. We also oppose the harassment, prosecution or revocation of license of any health-care provider who gives a recommendation or prescription for medicinal marijuana.

7. We support informed consent laws to educate consumers to potential health impact of types of treatment. For truly informed consent, a professional must explain the limitations of his or her professional training, and make the patient aware of what other professionals could offer differently or in addition. 8. Primary care, through a renewed attention to family medicine as opposed to increased medical specialization, is necessary. 9. We unequivocally support a woman's right to reproductive choice, no matter her marital status or age, and that contraception and safe, legal abortion procedures be available on demand and be included in all health insurance coverage in the U.S., as well as free of charge in any state where a woman falls below the poverty level. [See section A.1. Women's Rights in this chapter]

10. Medical research must be increased, and alternative therapies actively sought, to combat diseases and eliminate their causes, especially cancer and HIV/AIDS.

11. We call for competent social and health services for those who have special needs: the mentally ill, the handicapped, and those who are terminally ill.

12. Public policy needs to move in the direction of a voluntary, community-based mental health system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. A wide variety of humane, effective, and empowering alternative and complementary approaches should be available for anyone who experiences a psychiatric problem or mental disability. 1. Universal Health Care The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a national health care system. The current system's high costs and widely recognized failures demand that bold steps be taken. The Green Party supports a universal, comprehensive, national single-payer health insurance program as the only solution to the current disastrous for-profit system. Under a universal national single-payer health care system, the administrative waste of private insurance corporations would be redirected to patient care. If the U.S. were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer plan, as in Canada, the savings in administrative costs would be more than enough to offset the cost. Expenses for businesses currently providing coverage would be 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 HMOs when they become disabled and unemployed. Most importantly, the people of America will gain the peace of mind in knowing that needed health care will always be available to them. No longer will people have to worry about facing financial disaster if they become seriously ill, are laid off their jobs, or are injured in an accident. The Green Party supports a universal, comprehensive, national single-payer health plan that will provide the following with no increase in cost:

a. A publicly funded health care insurance program, administered at the state and local levels.

b. Lifetime benefits for everyone. No one will lose coverage for any reason.

c. Freedom to choose the type of health care provider, with a wide range of health care choices.

d. Decision-making in the hands of health providers and their patients.

e. Comprehensive benefits, as good or better than existing plans, including dental, vision, mental health care, hospice, long-term care, substance abuse treatment and medication coverage.

f. Participation of all licensed and/or certified health providers, subject to standards of practice in their field.

g. Portability regardless of geographical location or employment.

h. Primary and preventive care as priorities, including wellness education about diet, nutrition and exercise.

i. Greatly reduced paperwork for both patients and providers.

j. Fair and full reimbursement to providers for their services.

k. Preservation of all health care services currently available.

l. Cost controls via streamlined administration, national fee schedules, bulk purchases of drugs and medical equipment, and coordination of capital expenditures. Prices of medications must be publicly supervised.

m. Hospitals that can afford safe staffing levels for registered nurses.

n. Establishment of national, state, and local Health Policy Boards consisting of 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.

o. Establishment of a National Health Trust Fund that would channel all current Federal payments for health care programs directly into the Fund, in addition to employees' health premium payments. 2. AIDS / HIV We call for comprehensive, humane, and competent care of all people with AIDS/HIV. An all-out campaign must be waged against AIDS and HIV. The AIDS epidemic has not been adequately addressed at the local, state, federal, or international levels. All people in all countries, including those with AIDS/HIV, have a right to medical care, protection from discrimination, and confidentiality. Drug corporations have a strong profit motivation to make this disease a manageable one (like diabetes) with guaranteed sales of very expensive drugs, in the billions of dollars every year. Drug companies have not emphasized research that targets a cure. While new drugs have dramatically saved lives, many have side effects so debilitating that the quality of life is poor, if not intolerable during the extended lifetime of the patient. But even these need to be produced generically to stop the devastation resulting from corporate refusal to provide these drugs to the millions dying throughout the world who cannot afford these basic lifesaving drugs. Drug researchers should have a cure for AIDS as their ultimate goal. The Green Party calls for: a. Increased funding for AIDS education and patient care.

b. Increased funding for comprehensive sex education that includes AIDS education.

c. Increased funding for research focusing on a cure, methods of prevention, and on bolstering the immune system.

d. Improved technology, facilities, laboratories, researchers, staff and personnel to cure AIDS/HIV. A "Manhattan Project" for a cure is required.

e. Complete sharing of information between researchers, funding agencies (including corporations), and the public on AIDS/HIV before awarding the next research grant.

f. More research into better methods of prevention of HIV infection. While we support condom use, better condoms are also required. We support more vaccine research.

g. Equal access to AIDS education, treatment and medications for all affected. Accordingly, funding and accountability should be increased.

h. Allowing all prisoners affected with AIDS/HIV in all countries to have the same access as free citizens to education, treatment, preventive measures (including condom use), and medical care.

i. A uniform international definition of AIDS.

j. Protecting the confidentiality of all people diagnosed with AIDS/HIV or tested for HIV.

k. More careful and timely approval of effective AIDS drugs by the FDA. l. Production of affordable and available versions of patented medicines in all countries. m. Targeting the young for age-appropriate education about AIDS/HIV and appropriate methods of prevention. We support sex education and the distribution of condoms in schools.

n. Prevention awareness and access to condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. We condemn HIV-related discrimination.

o. Make drug treatment and other programs available for all addicts who seek help.

p. Expand clinical trials for treatments and vaccines.

q. Speed-up the FDA drug approval process.

r. Providing housing for homeless and poor people with AIDS/HIV.

s. Providing treatment for homeless people with AIDS/HIV.

t. Support for needle exchange programs and for programs to help drug addicts.

u. No mandatory screening for AIDS/HIV; anonymous screening must be available.

v. Lifting the ban prohibiting HIV positive people from entering the U.S. as visitors or as immigrants.