Wednesday, September 13, 2017
COTW: Medicare for All Act
More importantly than liberal support for Medicare for All is public support for the idea that the federal government owes its citizens some form of healthcare. FDR brought attention to this social policy in a 1944 speech. The idea was also endorse by President Harry Truman. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare program into law in 1966. The name "Medicare" comes originally from the name given the medical care program established for military dependents in 1956. Regrettably, due to insurance industry opposition, President Obama refused to support a single-payer option in his Affordable Care program. Progressives have been struggling for decades to get some form of universal social medicine past conservatives who are willing to waste billions on weapons, but hardly a dime on healthcare for Americans besides themselves:
all expenses would be paid with no copays or deductables by an enhanced Medicare program that now covers Americans over 65. No source of new funding for the expansion is contained in the bill, but Sanders has offered a white paper with the bill that outlines some new tax options for financing it. Importantly, the bill de-couples health insurance from employment. Employers would no longer be responsible for health benefits, but would probably have to pay higher taxes. Other advance countries experiments have shown that a single payment source with sufficient market leverage can reduce health costs. Consequently both doctors, insurance companies, drug companies and hospitals will vehemently oppose the legislation because they all get paid less than private insurance with Medicare. Sanders and his supporters are prepared for a long fight, potentially making the legislation a key plank of the next presidential campaign.
Sanders emphasized the simplicity of the single-payer arrangement: "I think the American people are sick and tired of filling out forms,” Sanders said. “Your income went up — you can’t get this. Your income went down — you can’t get that. You’ve got to argue with insurance companies about what you thought you were getting. Doctors are spending an enormous amount of time arguing with insurers.” Sanders admits the plan will be expensive, but points out that while an American pays a few thousand less in income taxes per year compared to a Canadian, his health care costs are twice that of his northern neighbor*.
Medicare is one of America's most popular entitlements. Because it basically works. The program would be enhanced to include vision, hearing and dental care. It would also cover reproductive treatments, maternity and newborn care and abortions. The federal government would establish a national formulary for covered prescription drugs. The Secretary of HHS would be responsible for negotiating prices with drug companies, and have the authority to require co-pays for non-generic medications. Three trillion is a lot money, but a inefficient hodgepodge of private health insurance is a system America cannot afford any longer.
*Similar disparities exist between the United States and every other nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -- all 33 of which have public, universal health care systems. The United States is the lone member of the OECD without universal coverage. As of 2012, the average OECD country spends $3,268 per capita on health care and 9.5 percent of its GDP on health expenses, or about half of what the US spends. truth-out.org/news/item/41941-sanders-s-bill-electrifies-growing-single-payer-movement