Health and financial security Medicare What's Buzzing

With the midterms behind us, there’s good reason to get excited about Medicare for all

Written by Diane Archer

With 70 percent of the public supporting Medicare for all, including a majority of Republicans, there’s good reason to be pushing hard for it. The midterm elections are yet another reason to get excited about Medicare for all. The Democratic Congress and President we’ll need to enact it could be just two years away.

National Nurses United reports that in more than half of the House midterm races, Democratic candidates supported Medicare for all. As noteworthy, four Democrats who just won House seats formerly held by Republicans endorsed Medicare for All. Libby Watson reports for Splinter News that even when Democrats lost, those supporting Medicare for all in leaning-Republican or likely-Republican districts increased the percentage of Democratic votes from 2016 by an average of 6.6 percent.

On top of that, the House and Senate Medicare for All bills have substantial support from centrist and left-leaning Democrats alike. More than 120 members of the House of Representatives have signed on in support of the Improved and Expanded Medicare for All Act. The Act would expand traditional Medicare to everyone in America and, at the same time, fill virtually all of its coverage gaps.

With improved and expanded Medicare for all, no one would be forced to give up seeing the doctors and using the hospitals they know and trust. There would be continuity of care for everyone. Instead of commercial insurers paying (or not paying) our health care bills, the federal government would pay them.

Of course people read into Medicare for all what they want to read into it, and opponents will do what they can to distort its meaning. But, Medicare for all has been clearly defined. And, there is strong support for it.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Elisabeth Rosenthal suggests, based on a poorly constructed poll question, that many voters seem confused by the fundamentals of Medicare for all. She writes, “In polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of Americans said they believed they would be able to keep their current insurance under a single-payer plan, which is not the case.” But, regardless of whether Americans are confused, it’s hard to believe anyone cares about keeping their commercial health insurance. People care about keeping their doctors and hospitals and they care about keeping their health care costs down, both of which Medicare for all allows them to do.

There are powerful corporate health care stakeholders who will push hard to undermine Medicare for all. Insurers and pharmaceutical companies will try to mislead people, to scare people, and to keep members of Congress from acting on behalf of their constituents. They will only succeed if we let them. The health and economic security of Americans hang in the balance.

Medicare for all can and will happen if people organize behind it and make sure their representatives in Congress know. Whether Congress enacts Medicare for all depends ultimately upon the level of public support for it. That support must override the control that commercial insurers and pharmaceutical companies exercise over policymakers in Washington DC.

Yes, Medicare for all will mean new progressive taxes that replace health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays. But, those taxes will be far lower than what people pay for their health care today. Even conservatives agree that Medicare for all would save more than $2 trillion dollars in total national health spending over 10 years, reducing overall spending and allowing people to get needed care without jeopardizing their financial security.

Medicare for all would be a far easier transition for individuals and health care providers than any other system that would guarantee all Americans health care. Administrative costs and headaches would largely go away. In stark contrast, a health care system that relies on commercial insurers, even if only in part, drives up health care and administrative costs and undermines choice.

Doctors’ and hospital income would change with Medicare for all. But, it is changing today. And, there’s no evidence that their net revenue would fall. For sure, doctors’ and hospitals’ administrative expenses would fall substantially because they would no longer have to deal with multiple insurers.

Medicare for all could come in phases, as the Sanders bill proposes, with different age groups receiving coverage each year over a few years. Or, it could come in one fell swoop.

Over the next several years, the health care industrial complex, Republican lawmakers, and Blue Dog Democrats, like Jim Cooper, a co-sponsor of the Sanders bill, will do what they will to dampen people’s excitement about Medicare for all. Ignore them. They speak neither for the Democratic party nor the American people.

If you support Medicare for All, please sign this petition to Congress.

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