Universal health care touted in Flat Rock

HEALTH CARE FOR Y'ALL: Joel R. Segal, co-author of HR676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, explained that the bill would save money by emphasizing preventive care and keep the cost of prescription drugs down. Photo by Sammy Feldblum


At the Healthcare for All, Y’All event Sunday at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, Joel R. Segal, who as a legislative aide to U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan worked to help pass the Affordable Care Act, offered a surprising take on it: “None of us wanted that bill. The basic idea was — let’s get this, then proceed to move toward single payer.”

Gruffly charming in the manner of Joe Biden, Segal outlined the contours of a more radical plan he helped Conyers author in 2003: House Resolution 676, or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Conyers has proposed the bill in every Congress since then. If adopted, it would transition the entire American health care system to one in which private providers are reimbursed by public dollars, as with Medicare.

Segal was invited to headline the event by Kyra Moore, who organizes Henderson County’s chapter of Our Revolution, the progressive political group spun out of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign. After seeing Segal speak in November, Moore asked him to come to Henderson County and reprise his talk. Afflicted with bipolar disorder, a condition that prevented her from getting health insurance through the years, Moore told Xpress a list of horror stories. Once, she stopped treatment to disprove her pre-existing condition and ended up in a psychiatric institution; another time, she was dropped from her employer-provided insurance during a stay in an institution and left with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

Thanks to her experience, she emphasizes the potential social impact of the transition to universal health care. “Really, it’s better not to look at this as a political issue,” she said. “Look at it as a social issue, an economic issue, a health issue and an ethics issue.”

Local organizations of various stripes helped to sponsor the event and set up booths outside to schmooze before the talk began. Scott Donaldson, a Democrat and doctor hoping to challenge Mark Meadows for his congressional seat, was in attendance, as was the team of Philip Price, Donaldson’s primary opponent and himself a supporter of universal health care. The county NAACP, Asheville’s Democratic Socialists of America, and the Namaste Center of Flat Rock also sponsored and brought booths.

Marsha Fretwell, an introductory speaker from Healthcare for All WNC, recalled that in her work as a doctor in a federally qualified health center, the absence of sufficient funding meant that “we had to knit things together.”

People cannot wait to get to 65, Fretwell said, and get Medicare. “It’s like the golden ticket.”

Segal detailed the many benefits that expanding Medicare could have. After an initial transitional cost to establish the new system, a universal Medicare-style program would save money, he explained, by emphasizing preventive care and by keeping the cost of prescription drugs down — the government would have more negotiating power, after all, than do private insurers.

Segal did not spare many kind words for those private insurers, who he sees as sweeping up dollars that could otherwise be spent on care. Blaming administrative bloat and inflated drug costs, Segal presented data that indicated the U.S. spends more than twice what other industrialized countries spend per capita on health care and has worse health outcomes than countries using public models.

Changing the model to single payer will require political pressure not only “in the streets, but in the suites,” Segal said. Success will involve both “relentless organizing” and a “good lobby” to reach those on Capitol Hill. But everyone in attendance could start, Segal suggested, by pressuring Hendersonville’s City Council to pass a resolution in favor of HR676.

Given the high cost and poor performance of American health care, why has single payer not been more popular before now? “The insurance industry stokes fear into the hearts of Americans,” Segal said. “Because they know that single payer works.”


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About Sammy Feldblum
Sammy Feldblum is a journalist in WNC. He is on the hunt for hellbenders.

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12 thoughts on “Universal health care touted in Flat Rock

  1. Lulz

    LOL, how fitting. A group of elitist in rich Flat Rock preaching single payer though many will be immune to it. They’ll be the ones with money and paying on demand. The rest of us will be in lines waiting.

    • Lulz

      LOL, just like the vets benefited from VA expansion lulz. And of course elitist professor and elitist LIEberal OMIT things like how government ran healthcare has killed plenty of vets. After all, the party of government doesn’t talk bad about it now do they. LIEberals like professor elitist and snob people who think a 30 dollar plate of food are cheap won’t have to deal with long waits at the government ran clinic because they have the money to pay directly. But that’s the way they want it because the rest will be WAITING in line AFTER they get theirs first.

      LOL, Belcher is bringing up a property tax decrease because that crony has seen how the extra money raked in by the thieves is NOT needed to run government. And is spent to keep budgets inflated and wasted away. Now just imagine big government running healthcare saying they don’t have enough money even though their budgets are huge and many still die from long waits and poor care. See LIEberlas assume money is the solution to everything. But the problem is that government is full of people and many of them are corrupt worthless criminals with absolutely no checks and balances. And cannot be voted out because they never ran in the first place AKA Wanda Green. And I sure as hell don’t trust anyone who says I’m from the government and I’m here to help you. That help hurts just like is has for the poor who never seem to GET OUT of poverty even though WE HAVE PLENTY of government help.

      LIEberals don’t understand that poverty only goes away when their lunatic ideology does. And it will.

      • hauntedheadnc

        Oh? So tell me why we had dire poverty, much worse than anything we see now, back when we had no social services at all. Once upon a time poverty was viewed as a moral failing, much the way that conservatives would like to view it today, and things were much worse back then. Why would anyone want to return to that?

        • Lulz

          LOL, nothing wrong with giving help to someone to lift themselves up. Something is very wrong with keeping people in perpetual poverty to gain power though. LIEberals have no real policies that help the nation or uplift its citizens. But they do push a phony narrative that handouts help someone even though their lives never improve. And in many circumstances, generations of the same family members are on government PAYOFFS. And even worse and despicable, that their race or sex is the cause of some unfair targeting where in reality their lack of their own desire to improve is because they have no real incentive to. LIEberals are sure to continue to feed them without demanding they help themselves.

    • Jo

      You need to check out
      Look under World Factbook
      These numbers are obtained by our own Central Intelligence Agency.
      Compare how much is spent per person per year in our country versus Canada, England, Australia, all the industrialized countries.
      Then compare us versus them for life span, infant survival, etc.
      then ask yourself why we look SO bad!
      We are the only industrialized country without universal care for its citizens.
      NONE of these countries’s citizens is agitating for our type of healthcare.
      Ask yourself Why?

    • Norman Bossert

      You don’t know Flat Rock. Learn the facts, then if you still have concerns, let us know what they are.

      • Lulz

        LOL, same old use of the word “facts” without presenting any lulz. And yet the facts of single payer are never on display by the LIEberals. And just like LIEberals, present only one side of single payer. How about telling us the death tolls of single payer? Or the time spent waiting? Or how a bureaucrat dictates who gets what? No, those facts don’t matter. Only how glorious government is lulz.

  2. LowWageEarner

    Obamacare costs me $800/month. Health care for All would cost $200/ month.

  3. Frank Fox

    In the other industrialized democracies across the world, single-payer government-funded healthcare is much appreciated by populations who are want to keep it and consistently are polled happier and rated healthier than our citizens. Our failed system economically rations care and causes unnecessary suffering and thousands of bankruptcies every year.

    • Lulz

      LOL, no your failed system allows Mission Hospital to buy prime land left and right and not pay a dime in property taxes. After all, it’s a non-profit lulz. But let’s not bring up that point because then we’d also have to point out how LIEberals pass the costs on to working class folks to make up for it.

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