Medicare for All
would solve problems
President Obama is beset on all sides with the disaster that is Obamacare. A simple solution is at hand.
WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA himself admitting that the enormously complicated Affordable Care Act is enormously flawed, the time has come to consider a much simpler, proven and effective remedy.
It is a concept that’s been sidelined for two decades, since Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first disastrous attempt at healthcare reform: a single-payer system, also known as the public option or Medicare for All.
Perhaps the problems with the ACA can be fixed, but even if they are the complexity of the system is daunting. Of those who have managed to access the web site, few have chosen and enrolled in a plan.
There are simply too many choices. One needs a PhD just to compare the different plans. It need not be this way. It is time to reopen the discussion on a national health insurance program.
THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE source of detailed, scientific research on a single-payer system can be found at the site of 18,000-member organization Physicians for a National Health Program, where it summarizes the academic research on the topic at The Case for a National Health Program
The web site of Physicians for a National Health Program. Click image to enlarge.
“Over the past two decades,” we learn, “PNHP research has “framed” the debate and focused it on the need for fundamental health care reform. Some of these findings have become so well known that new members of PNHP (and most members of Congress) may not know that we are the source.”
The findings, all linked to academic research papers, are conclusive, shocking and persuasive.
PNHP concludes that:
“Administrative costs consume 31 percent of US health spending, most of it unnecessary;
“Medical bills contribute to half of all personal bankruptcies. Three-fourths of those bankrupted had health insurance at the time they got sick or injured;
“Taxes already pay for more than 60 percent of US health spending; Americans pay the highest health care taxes in the world. We pay for national health insurance, but don’t get it.”
Comparing America to its northern neighbor Canada, which has one of the most successful national health care plans in the world, PNHP concludes:
“Despite spending far less per capita for health care, Canadians are healthier and have better measures of access to health care than Americans.”
Yet, in all that has been written and said about the current fiasco with Obamacare that didn’t need to happen in the first place, there is virtually no discussion of the public option.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, there is a bill languishing in Congress that could solve all the problems, save billions and ensure that every single American would have access to the healthcare system.
A wealth of information on HR 676 can be found at the Healthcare-Now web site. Click image to enlarge.
Introduced in February by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act, H.R. 676 has 51 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
According to the Healthcare-Now web site, the “Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act establishes a unique American national universal health insurance program. The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered healthcare system that uses the already existing Medicare program by expanding and improving it to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories.”
It is elegant in its simplicity.
Medicare is already the most popular federal program in existence. It is simple to enroll, and its coverage is comprehensive.
“The goal of the legislation is to ensure that everyone will have access, guaranteed by law, to the highest quality and most cost effective healthcare services regardless of their employment, income, or healthcare status,” says the Healthcare-Now web site.
IF ONE REMAINS skeptical, read further to discover that a single-payer system could actually save Americans some $400 billion in annual expenses on medical care.
“The U.S. could save enough on administrative costs with a single-payer system to cover the uninsured,” the web site says, with an authoritative source.
“PNHP Co-founders Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein published this definitive study of the administrative costs of the U.S. health system in the August 21, 2003 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“After analyzing the costs of insurers, employers, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and home-care agencies in both the U.S. and Canada, they found that administration consumes 31.0 percent of U.S. health spending, double the proportion of Canada (16.7 percent).
“Streamlined to Canadian levels, enough administrative waste could be saved to provide compressive health insurance to all Americans.”
The Newsday article by Caroline Poplin published on Thursday. Click image to enlarge.
Few in the media are even mentioning this as a possible remedy for the beleaguered ACA, but one writer for Newsday did on Thursday in Expanding Medicare to all can solve health care disaster
Caroline Poplin wrote:
“[H]ealth care is not just another item in the shopping cart. Health care is a matter of life and death.
“The ACA was an effort to preserve a private health insurance market, using regulation to achieve a better result. As we see, this is very complicated.”
Too complicated, it seems, for the vast majority of Americans and our politicians.
“There is a third option. If everyone is in the same, large, pool, everything medically necessary is covered, insurers are paid merely to process claims, and premiums are scaled to income, there is enough money to cover everyone at reasonable cost without elaborate, expensive, error-prone computer programs and geniuses to run them. People will be able to choose their doctors and hospitals.”
What’s not to like about this?
“[T]his is Medicare, a familiar, popular, competently-run public insurance system that everyone’s parents or grandparents rely on. Person-for-person, disease-for-disease, Medicare is the cheapest, most efficient health insurance program in the country.”
Fixing Obamacare is no sure bet, despite the president’s reassurances. It is too complicated, inefficient and unpopular, to say the least.
It is time to put back on the table the one simple, effective and money-saving proposal that has not been given a public airing.
Before the current disaster, Medicare for All may have had no chance of surviving the onslaught by the enormously powerful vested interests.
In view of the events of the past six weeks, however, the American people now deserve an open discussion of the most obvious solution.
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