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Lehigh Valley exec advocates single-payer health system

Master’s company, headquartered in Palmer Township, makes home decor for a global market, and has close to 200 employees nationwide.

In 2015, Master produced a short documentary called, “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point,” which made the case for single-payer health care, a centralized, publicly financed health care system, from a business perspective. He showed the documentary at a senior advocacy and activity organization, Lehigh Valley Active Life, in Allentown on April 23.

Master believes a single-payer health care system is not out of reach. He asserts that the Medicare tax could be replaced with a slightly heavier tax to cover the cost of the country’s health care needs. The current tax rate for Medicare is 1.45 percent for the employer and 1.45percent for the employee, for a total of 2.9percent.

“Medicare for all is a solution to the cost crisis in U.S. health care,” said Master, whose views go against the notion that business people are unlikely to support socialized health care.

Health care reform has been hotly debated for decades, particularly after health care costs soared in the 1990s. Congress eventually passed the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, in 2010, designed to constrain health care costs and improve quality.

While Republicans have tried repeatedly to kill Obamacare, some Democrats are hoping to move beyond it. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, all likely 2020 presidential candidates, have endorsed Medicare for all legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, another likely presidential contender.

While 40 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2018 Gallup poll support a government-run health care system, 54 percent remain supportive of private health insurance.

To Richard Master, private health insurance is an institution whose time must pass. Master explained that his company’s health insurance premiums amount to 23 percent of total payroll costs.

“And the costs increase dramatically year after year,” he said. “We need to get these costs under control.”

“Fix It,” through interviews with doctors, nurses and business people in Canada, a country with a single-payer health care system, argues that a similar system in the United States is the best way to control rising costs for businesses.

Master has produced two more short films on the theme since “Fix It,” titled “Big Pharma: Market Failure,” and “Big Money: Democracy on the Brink.” He travels around the country to show the films to groups that have invited him.

Master also organized The Unfinished Business Foundation, which brings business leaders together with politicians in Washington, DC, to discuss how health care reform could benefit business.

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