Political jujitsu: Now’s the time for Medicare for all

As Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are moving toward Medicare for All—a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost.

Most House Democrats are already supporting a Medicare for All bill.

With health care emerging as the public’s top concern, according to recent polls, the choice between repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All is likely to be the major domestic issue in the presidential campaign of 2020 (other than getting Trump out of office, if he lasts that long).

And the better choice is clear. Private for-profit insurers spend a fortune trying to attract healthy people while avoiding the sick and needy, filling out paperwork from hospitals and providers, paying top executives, and rewarding shareholders.

And for-profit insurers are merging like mad, in order to make even more money.

These are among the major reasons why health insurance is becoming so expensive, and why almost every other advanced nation—including our neighbor to the north—has adopted a single-payer system at less cost per person and with better health outcomes.

Most Americans support Medicare for All. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, a majority would like to see a single-payer system implemented. An April survey from the Economist/YouGov showed 60 percent of Americans in favor of “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.”

That includes nearly half of people who identify themselves as Republican.

If Republicans gut the Affordable Care Act, the American public will be presented with the real choice ahead: Either expensive health care for the few, or affordable health care for the many.

This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.

Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, was released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @RBReich.

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