Responding to a piece in The Nation, Margaret Flowers explains explains improved Medicare for all and why we need it in Nationofchange.org. Improved Medicare for all, detailed in U.S. House bill 676, is a national comprehensive Medicare program offering traditional Medicare coverage without cost sharing or limits on coverage.
In order to simplify and streamline our health care system and rein in administrative and other costs, improved Medicare for all would forbid private insurers from offering Medicare coverage. Instead, improved Medicare for all would include all health care providers, recognizing that no one wants to choose among health plans that limit access to different health care providers and treatments. People want one affordable health plan that offers a wide choice of doctors and hospitals to treat any and all future needs.
According to Flowers, improved Medicare for all gives us the health plan that is best for us. Since we don’t know what care we’ll need tomorrow or who we will want to treat our condition, we can’t pick the health plan that is best for us from among health plans with different provider networks and benefits. Having a choice of health plans that restrict access to care in different ways is of little value.
Continuity of care–the ability to see the same doctors over time–will be guaranteed with improved Medicare for all, unlike with the system we have today. We currently don’t know whether commercial insurers either have quality providers to provide treatments we may need or will deny our costly care, and we never know who will remain in the network and who will leave at any time. With improved Medicare for all, we will have coverage no matter which doctors we see. Doctors will not be allowed to opt out.
Improved Medicare for all covers everyone, including people with pre-existing conditions. Employers will not be responsible for providing health benefits but will be able to offer supplemental coverage to fill any gaps.
Improved Medicare for All saves money through administrative efficiencies and the leverage to control costs. We can afford it if we want to, just as we afforded the Wall Street bank bailouts in 2008. We currently spend more per person on health care than any other country because the health care market has not been able to control costs.
Flowers recognizes that her vision of improved Medicare for all is not the only vision. She suggests that alternatively we could have a VA system for all or possibly some mix that allows people to get integrated care through a VA system.
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