Medicare for All Would Create 2.6 Million Jobs


Posted on 25 February 2009

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medicare.jpgBy Chuck Idelson
Communications Director
California Nurses Association
National Nurses Organizing Committee

With President Obama preparing to present his budget proposal, which is expected to include both an update on his economic stimulus initiatives and a renewed call for healthcare reform, the nation's largest organization of registered nurses today released new data on how the most comprehensive healthcare fix would create new jobs in nearly all areas of the national economy.

Overall, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover all Americans (single-payer) would create 2.6 million new jobs, infuse $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and inject another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to the study by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy (IHSP), research arm of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. The study may be viewed at www.CalNurses.org.

While 30 percent of the new jobs would be in health and social services, the ripple effect of job creation goes throughout the economy, according to updated data released today. Biggest additional gains would be in retail trade, accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and administrative services.

All these benefits could be achieved at less cost than the federal bailouts for Wall Street giants such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, CitiGroup, and other banks.

"The new data reminds us that the most effective solution to our healthcare crisis would also provide a dramatic, immediate help towards economic recovery," said CNA/NNOC Co-President Geri Jenkins, RN. "The jobs creation that would come from a single-payer system is just one reason RNs know that single-payer is the right thing to do for our patients, for ourselves, and for our country.”

HR 676, a bill recently reintroduced in Congress, would implement a single-payer system.

First of its kind study

The IHSP projections build from an econometric model of the current face of healthcare – applying economic analysis to a wide array of publicly available data from Medicare, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and other sources.

It is the first known study to provide an econometric analysis of the economic benefits of healthcare to the overall economy, showing how changes in direct healthcare delivery affect all other significant sectors touched by healthcare, and how sweeping healthcare reform can help drive the nation's economic recovery.

Healthcare presently accounts for $2.105 trillion in direct expenditures. But healthcare ripples far beyond doctor's offices and hospitals. Adding in healthcare business purchases of services or supplies and spending by workers, the total impact of healthcare in the economy mushrooms to nearly $6 trillion.

A single-payer system would produce the biggest increase in jobs and wages. The reason, says IHSP director and lead study author Don DeMoro said, is that "the broadest economic benefits directly accrue from the actual delivery and provision of healthcare, not the purchase of insurance."

A Medicare for all system has numerous healthcare benefits as well, said CNA/NNOC, including:

• A streamlined system that ends the irrational structure of our current system by replacing the chaos of different plans with different rules for coverage, eligibility, exclusions, and charges.
• Sharp cuts in unproductive waste in the private insurance sector by $56 billion
• Guaranteed health coverage for all; guaranteed choice of doctor and hospital; a standard set of benefits and care for everyone (no multi-tiered care system); no insurance denials based on pre-existing conditions or denials of treatment recommended by doctors because the insurer doesn't want to pay for it.
• Genuine health security for all Americans. No more rapidly rising premiums, co-pays, deductibles rising three or four times faster than wages, pushing more families into bankruptcy from medical bills, or self-rationing care because they can't pay for it.
• Economic protection for employers who see ever rising costs, or who can't compete with employers based in countries with national healthcare systems.

The IHSP has conducted research for members of Congress and state legislatures as well as NNOC/CNA, and received international renown for research studies on cost and charges in the hospital industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospital staffing, and other healthcare policy.

Robert Fountain, a frequent economics consultant for the California Public Employees Retirement System (Cal-PERS), served as a consultant on the study. CNA/NNOC represents 85,000 RNs in all 50 states, and is a founding member of the newly formed United American Nurses-NNOC.