WASHINGTON – Proposals for a national, publicly funded plan – call it “single payer” or “Medicare for All” – might soon be taking center stage in the national debate about our nation’s health care system.
Polls show the American people want such a plan. For example, the Pew Research Center found that 60 percent of the American people believe the government should be responsible for ensuring health coverage for all.
That’s one reason why Republicans failed to pull the wool over the eyes of the public last month. Under the guise of “repealing and replacing” ObamaCare, Donald Trump and the GOP tried to promote a bill that had nothing to do with health care and everything to do with cutting back on Medicaid and giving the rich more tax breaks.
Meanwhile, last January, U.S. Representative John Conyers, D, Mich., had introduced H.R. 676 , the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.
Furthermore, in an email he sent nationwide Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced that “… within a couple of weeks, I am going to be introducing legislation calling for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.”
Sanders also said, “People who cannot afford health care don’t deserve to die.”
And, with the support, encouragement and research from National Nurses United (NNU), California lawmakers will soon open hearings on a proposed statewide Medicare for All program.
Support for single-payer growing
Darrell Delamaide reports in the MarketWatch online newsletter that “support for a … ‘socialist’ intervention seems to be growing.”
Aside from the findings of The Pew Research Center, Delamaide cites a Kaiser poll. “At the end of 2015,” he writes, “as the presidential primary campaigns were in full swing, [the poll] found that 58 percent of Americans favor some form of Medicare for all.”
Delamaide continues, “This momentum led the New Republic’s Sarah Jones to comment … that “long derided by conservatives and centrists as a socialist fantasy, single-payer health care (sometimes called Medicare for All) is having a moment.”
Furthermore, Delamaide says, “Vox’s Sarah Kliff reported … how surprised she was when she helped conduct a focus group on health care among Trump voters and half of them spontaneously said they would like a single-payer system like Canada’s.”
The California plan
The California Medicare for All legislation, SB562, The Healthy California Act, is important because California is home to one of every eight people in the country.
“At a time of critical disarray of our national healthcare system,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of both NNU, “this bill will set a standard in America and be a catalyst for the nation.”
The Healthy California Act includes:
- Enrollment of every eligible Californian, regardless of age, income, employment or other status.
- No out-of-pocket costs, such as high deductibles and co-pays, for covered services.
- Comprehensive coverage, including hospital and outpatient medical care, primary and preventive care, vision, dental, hearing, women’s reproductive health services, mental health, lab tests, rehab and other basic medical needs.
- Lower prescription drug costs.
- Continued long-term care services provided under California’s Medicaid program, with an emphasis on community and in-home care.
- Elimination of narrow insurance networks through which insurers force people to choose from only a few in-house doctors.
- A ban on insurer denial of patient claims in order to reach corporate profit goals.
The proposed California plan would be paid for by consolidating money now coming in from Medicare, Medicaid, savings from eliminating insurers’ overhead and with “a progressive tax mix,” DeMoro says.
While the California legislature is considering its plan, Sanders will introduce his proposal in the U.S. Senate.
Jeff Weaver, president of Our Revolution, the organization that grew out of Sanders’ campaign said “We all know the Affordable Care Act was a critically important step towards the goal of universal health care. But 29 million Americans today still do not have health insurance and millions more are underinsured because health insurance companies are making our health care unaffordable and inaccessible.
“Medicare for All puts power and choice when it comes to health care decisions right where it should be,” Weaver concludes, “in the hands of patients and their doctors, because nobody should be squeezed by the insurance industry’s bottom line.”