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Health Care Lessons From Taiwan - Single Payer Now forum with Dr. Claudia Chaufan.
by Rubble
Sunday Dec 23rd, 2012 6:00 PM
On December 8 in San Francisco, Single Payer Now and the California Universal Healthcare Education Project presented a forum on a better healthcare system that is established and achievable. Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD, member of Physicians For A National Health Project and an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Health Policy Institute For Health and Aging, provides a detailed presentation of the Taiwan healthcare system. Single Payer Now organizer Don Bechler starts out describing the current state of California and Federal Single Payer/Medicare For All movements along with 2013 organizing initiatives. (58 minutes)
In 1995, Taiwan’s privatized healthcare system was falling apart, with a staggering 43% of the population uninsured, escalating medical bankruptcies, and continually rising costs. The people rose up and drove implementation of a national, publicly funded Medicare for All system. People contribute directly to the system by ability to pay and receive services based on individual need. All residents are insured access to the same comprehensive set of services on demand. Administrative and profit-based costs are substantially lower. The system provides for a fully free choice of practitioners and virtually no waiting lines, with a reported 80% satisfaction rate.

The U.S. can have this too, if political will demands it. Now is the perfect time. A Single Payer system, while needing start-up investment, will substantially lower overall healthcare costs, providing more for all while significantly lowering government budgets. This and other larger actions like getting out of war and militarism and taking back big corporate subsidies, can solve our economic problems in a constructive way, rather than cutting Medicare, pensions, and other education and health and human services. The healthcare profiteers and the politicians that profit off them continue to be the obstacle.

Mr. Bechler reports the Federal legislation will be the first target in 2013. Representative Conyers has reintroduced HR 676. With Democrats holding the White House, the push will be to break down that party’s resistance to constructive change.

The California movement has been squashed by the Democratic Party in Sacramento. The Single Payer bills had been voted in two out three times under Republican rule, with Governor Schwarzenegger vetoing it twice. The word from Democrats had been that we just need a Democratic governor to get the bill passed into law. At one point, SF Senator Mark Leno told activists that if a bill gets to Governor Brown’s desk, he will sign it. Well, Senator Leno introduced HR 810 each of the past two years, and the Democratic leaders squelched it before it could ever come to a full legislative vote, not wanting Brown or other Democratic legislators to be confronted by something that will help the people and subject them to harsh Republican criticism.

A tireless leader until now, Leno has recently told Single Payer activists that he will not even introduce the bill this year, having been told by leadership that it won’t be supported. The first quote I read from Governor Brown after re-election along with a total majority of Democrats is not to expect much in the way of change despite the super majority.

Organizing information for actions aimed at both bills can be accessed at