December 2008

Minutes from the Sunday Supper Club December 14th, 2008

We closed out the year with a record turnout for a December meeting with 39 people present.  Thank you once again to Ike and Julie Broaddus for opening their lovely home to us.

Five Minute Flash Reports:

Lisa Richard- Treasurer’s Report
Our balance stands at $102.65 after November donations of $40.00 and
domain expenses of $31.99.

Bill Day- It was great to have Bill back with us this evening.  He offered a big thank you to everyone for all the support he received for his campaign.  “It was an honor and a privilege to be a congressional candidate.” Bill very much appreciated the opportunity to talk about the issues which are important to him.
• Bill is the contact person for state Senator Jill Vogel’s district (District 27) for the League of Conservation Voters as well as the point person on single payer health coverage for the U.S. Congress’ 1st District. Please contact Bill if you are interested in more information on these issues.  wsdayjr@gmail.com,

Special Feature
Change is Coming “unhouse” party

Julie Broaddus hosted the Barack Obama “unhouse” party.  Because the SSC is an “ungroup” which does not as a whole endorse candidates or take a group stand on issues, we had to somewhat alter the house party format.  Had this been a true house party we would have discussed the issues, come up with issues important to our group, identified our leaders, discussed ways to empower them and ways to amplify our voices.  We also would have come up with a service project which we could undertake as a group prior to the inauguration.
Information arising from our discussion:
• The SSC is WAY ahead of the curve as we’ve been conducting house parties for over 4 years now.
• www.change.gov- the website of the office of the president elect:  visit this website to view Obama’s weekly address, read about his new appointments and his agenda, blog, and much more.
• There is now (or will be shortly) a link to the “Change is Coming” video on our website, www.sundaysupperclub.org
• Amplify your voice by getting involved with your elected officials; attend a board of supervisors meeting, stay informed about the issues and legislation that is important to you, share your concerns with your elected representatives.
• Visit the SSC website, look under important links, and click on “Politics and Political Parties” on the right side of the page or on “Your Elected Officials – Let Them Hear From You” on the left side of the page for links to all of our elected officials as well as links to the Virginia General Assembly website and the Virginia General Assembly legislative site which allows you to track individual bills.

For the Good of the Community

Bill Day thanked Andrea Miller for stepping up and running for Congress.

Grassroots Pre-Inaugural Ball, Saturday Jan. 17th, 2009 – hosted by The Democratic Black Caucus of Virginia and The Virginia Association of Democratic Chairs.  Visit
http://www.actblue.com/page/44-44gr-inauguralball for more information or to purchase tickets.

Fauquier County Democratic Committee Holiday Party- Sat. Dec. 20th at 7:00PM, all are welcome.  In the spirit of the holidays, the FCDC will be collecting non-perishable food for the Haven in Warrenton.  Contact David at davidmroos@aol.com or Andrea at almartens@gmail.com for details.

Recipe Submissions- We now have a place on our website for recipes from our members.  Those who come to our meetings often, know just how well we eat there!  Please consider sending your recipes to Linda@baldwinridge.com for posting on the site.

Featured Presentation
“Sick Around the World”

As reforming health care is a topic on everyone’s mind this year, we decided to show the  Frontline video “Sick Around the World” as a way to educate ourselves on the issues and to jump start a discussion.  Thank you to Ken and Sandy Alm for providing this great documentary to us!

From the PBS website:  In Sick Around the World, FRONTLINE teams up with veteran Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid to find out how five other capitalist democracies — the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland — deliver health care, and what the United States might learn from their successes and their failures.
Visit  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/  to watch the entire documentary on line or to read more information on the documentary, including graphs of U.S. health stats compared to other countries and an explanation of the four basic models of health care systems.  You can also find out about correspondent T.R. Reid’s upcoming book: “We’re Number 37”.

The website will provide a far better overview of the documentary than will my notes, but for those short on time, I’ll provide brief highlights.

U.S. Statistics
• 47,000,000 uninsured
• 700,000 per year go bankrupt due to medical expenses.
• The World Health Organization ranks U.S. health care 37th in the world for quality and fairness.
• U.S. infant mortality rate is 6.71% which puts the U.S. 29th in the world, tied with Poland and Slovakia.
• Health care costs account for 16% of GDP.
• Administrative costs account for 24% of health care expenses.

Great Britain
• 90% of those who use the National Health System rank it highly.
• No medical bills.
• No medical bankruptcy.
• Brits pay much higher taxes than we do.
• Primary care and emergency care are quite good but elective services are not quite as good.  Patients might wait up to 2-6 months for elective procedures.
• Hospitals compete against each other for government funds.  People can choose hospitals and doctors.
• World leader in preventive medicine.  Prevention is encouraged through financial payouts to doctors who do a good job preventing illness and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Japan
• 130 million people
• Health care costs total 8% of GDP.
• No medical bankruptcy.
• Polls show the Japanese people are highly satisfied with their system.
• Overall better health than the U.S.: lower infant mortality, longest healthy life span.
• They cover everyone for half as much as what we spend on health care.
• Everyone one signs up for health insurance. The government picks up the tab for those who can’t afford it.
• 80% of hospitals are private as are most doctors.
• The Japanese are prodigious consumers of health care, visiting the doctor three times as often as people in the U.S.
• Ministry controls the cost of healthcare.  Physicians and the government negotiate standard prices for procedures.  Example- in the U.S. an MRI costs $1,200, in Japan $98.  As a result, Japanese manufacturers of scanning machines have found ways to make inexpensive machines and are profiting through selling these to other countries.
• Citizens pay into a social insurance fund. If you lose your job you do not lose your insurance.
• Insurance companies are non-profit.
• Average premium for a family is $280/month with the employer picking up half.
• Downside- 50% of hospitals are in financial deficit.  We spend too much on health care, they spend too little. Japan will need to increase costs so hospitals do not go broke.

Germany
• 3rd richest economy in the world.
• 90% of Germans are in the system.  The system covers all basics including mental, dental and alternative care.
• No medical bankruptcy.
• Germans pay premiums based on income; the rich pay for the poor and the healthy pay for the sick.  $750/month premium per family.  Insurance continues even if you lose your job.
• Theirs is a social support system which is highly accepted by the population.
• The rich can opt out of the national system.
• Serious illness/injury receives same day treatment; non- emergencies may wait two weeks.  Wait times for elective surgeries are comparable to what they are in the United States at three to four weeks.
• Private doctors and private hospitals.
• Insurance plans(called “sickness funds”) are non-profit and compete against one another.
• Medical practitioners and the “sickness funds” negotiate standard prices.  This keeps administrative costs down to 6%, one quarter of what they are in the U.S.
• Some doctors feel undervalued and underpaid.  A family doctor makes about $120,000/yr, approximately two thirds of what a U.S. doctor makes.
• Malpractice premium is about a tenth of that of a U.S. doctor and medical education is free.

Taiwan
• 23 million people.
• No medical bankruptcy.
• Health care accounts for 6.2% of GDP
• In 1995, Taiwan looked at 10-15 other countries when devising their health care system, putting together pieces that worked from various systems.
• Taiwanese are highly satisfied with their system.
• No medical bankruptcy.
• National Insurance System- everyone must pay, no one can opt out.
• One government insurer which works a bit like Medicare and covers inpatient/outpatient, drug benefits, dental…
• No gate keepers or waiting time.
• Clinics are open on weekends.
• Everyone has health “smart card” which contains all their health records and which they must take with them to the doctor.
• Bills go directly to the insurer and are paid immediately.  Administrative costs are kept to 2% of health budget.
• Downside- the Taiwanese do not bring in enough money to cover all offered services.

Switzerland
• 8 million people.
• In 1994 Switzerland took on reforming their health care system; prior to 1994 their system resembled ours.
• Today they have universal health coverage; average premium for a family is $750/month
• No medical bankruptcy.
• New law mandates that everyone must buy insurance and that the state pays for the poor.
• Insurance companies cannot cherry pick whom they will cover.  They cannot make a profit on basic care though they can profit through the sale of supplemental policies.
• Insurance companies are doing well.  Lack of profit does not mean a lack of competition.
• Benefits packages are fixed.
• Drug companies argue that less money means less research and development yet Swiss pharmaceutical companies still rank in the top ten.
• Strong incentives to keep administrative costs low; currently administrative costs are at 5%.
• “Everyone has the right to health care.”  It is a profound need of the people and a basic human right.

Closing thoughts from documentary
• We can’t trust health care entirely to the free markets.
• Companies must insure everyone and cannot be allowed to profit from basic care.
• Everyone must buy insurance with the government paying for those who cannot afford it.
• Doctors and hospitals must accept one fixed price schedule.

Our discussion:
• “Single payer” is basically Medicare for all.
• Medicare has its own problems.
• “Singe payer” is being pushed by Progressive Democrats of America.
• The American College of Physicians has come out in favor of single payer.  One of the sticking points is disparity in reimbursement.
• 80% of care is outpatient yet the lion’s share of medical training is done in a hospital setting with a high tech mindset.
• A minority of medical graduates go into primary care.  Primary care system is under siege.
• We must provide incentives for people to stay healthy.  In the long run, this will save money.

Possible Sources of information:

Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health by Ivan Illich

http://www.pnhp.org/- Physicians for a National Health Program

http://pdamerica.org/policy/

Save the Dates
You won’t want to miss the interesting meetings we have planned!

Jan. 11th, 2009-  The SSC’s own Georgia Herbert will speak with us about the increasingly relevant issue of uranium mining in Virginia with a focus on its environmental impact.

Feb. 8th- David Lambert addresses the topic of “You and World Hunger.”

March 8th  – speaker TBA soon.  Keep checking our web page.

**Check the calendar at http://www.sundaysupperclub.org for details of our meetings and many other events of interest to our community.**

Please consider joining the SSC planning committee and help us brainstorm ideas for 2009.  Planning committee meetings are posted on the web site.  Just come on over to join in!  (We are skipping the meeting that would normally occur between Christmas and New Years but will be meeting again on January 27, 2009).

Happy Holidays to everyone and all the best in the New Year!!

Warm wishes,
Andrea