Cape Care Introductory Information
Cape Care is a proposed community-owned single-payer health care program which will cover all the residents of Cape Cod. The roots of this initiative are in the nation's growing crisis in health care delivery - all the more acute on Cape Cod, with its high number of self-employed and seasonal workers and its concentration of small businesses.
In October 2004, a group of local citizens met at a health care forum at the Dennis Senior Center which was called to discuss the crisis in obtaining affordable medical coverage on Cape Cod. The overflow crowd agreed: we have to do something about this, and not wait for someone else to solve the problem for us - we need a regional system of universal health care. Further study has described a program that would provide coverage for all members of the Cape; control health care cost inflation; shape health care delivery to meet community needs; and strengthen our existing network of health care providers and institutions.
The many employers of the Cape are faced with the dilemma of paying their employees' health insurance premiums, despite the fact that bills are increasing at more than 15% per year. This is a budget-buster that in the case of municipalities can cost an extra $100,000 or more per year. Something needs to be done to curb these costs.
The 2004 Cape Care Working Group, composed of health and human service providers, civic and business leaders, and citizens, developed the values and principles underlying such a plan. Grassroots residents then created a non-binding 'Cape Care Resolution Campaign' for the town meetings on the Cape. This resolution urged the County Commissioners to support the idea that Cape Cod could provide its own healthcare coverage, and that obtaining universal single payer coverage would lower costs. Residents from most of the 15 Cape towns spent the fall, winter and spring of 2005-06 speaking to their own communities, encouraging passage of the resolution. In the 2006 town meetings, ten towns passed the resolution, and in August 2006 the Barnstable Town Council passed the resolution by a vote of 10-2.
Following town meeting season, the group met to review their progress so far. The referendum campaigns had identified many hard questions and many heartfelt concerns on the part of the voters. In further meetings, the ad hoc committee organized further into a coalition, with a more structured approach, identifying medical care as a basic human right and a social responsibility to be shared by a community and its citizens. Medical care should be comprehensive, accessible and affordable.
The Resolution Campaign expanded into the Cape Care Coalition, which has started to develop a plan for the reorganization of medical care for Cape residents - from it's currently expensive structure into a less wasteful non-profit version.