With about 100 co-sponsors, Dem Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the Medicare For All Act of 2019, saying the following: “Today’s healthcare system fails to provide quality, affordable healthcare as a right to all people living in the United States.”
“Nearly 30 million Americans are uninsured and at least 40 million more cannot afford the costs of their co-pays and deductibles”—wages failing to keep pace with annual healthcare cost increases exacerbating things.
“The current healthcare system in the United States is ineffective, inefficient and outrageously expensive. It is time to remove the profit motive in healthcare, to resolve the inefficiencies and to guarantee quality healthcare to every person living in the United States.”
“The Medicare for All Act of 2019 improves and expands the overwhelmingly successful and popular Medicare program, so that every person living in the United States has guaranteed access to healthcare with comprehensive benefits.”
America, the world’s richest nation, is the only developed one without some form of universal healthcare.
Britain has it. So do France, Germany, Canada, Japan, North and South Korea, Norway since 1912, Cuba, Venezuela, most other Latin and Central American countries, India, Pakistan, Russia, and numerous other nations. China intends having it for all its people by 2020.
Not America under marketplace medicine—except for eligible Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The world’s richest country lacks an essential human right because of the power of insurance giants, Big Pharma, large hospital chains, and healthcare industry lobbyists representing them.
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a US advocacy group for universal healthcare. Its data show an improved Medicare for all would save about $500 billion annually.
It would eliminate insurers’ overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments, as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay—along with the bureaucratic nightmare under today’s system for physicians and hospitals, needing administrative staffs for costly paperwork, unrelated to caring for patients.
No one ever visited an insurer to receive treatment for illnesses or injuries. Eliminating them would be a major cost savings—more than enough to provide quality healthcare for everyone, no one left out like under today’s system.
PNHP’s new “Beyond the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform” addresses one of pressing issues of our time in the US.
PNHP proposed a workable “publicly financed, non-profit single-payer national health program that would fully cover medical care for all Americans”—for the first time in the nation’s history, fixing its dysfunctional system, a fundamental human right based on the ability to pay, too often a pay or die system.
A summary of the plan is as follows:
Its key feature is “removal of all financial barriers to medical care.” Its savings will assure comprehensive coverage for all Americans, including immigrants—no one left out, at no increase in total healthcare costs.
It would establish a cost control mechanism, along with assuring free choice of providers for all. Billing patients would be eliminated, other than perhaps for tourists becoming ill when in America from abroad.
“Coverage would include outpatient and inpatient medical care as well as rehabilitation, mental health care, long-term care, dental services, and prescription drugs.”
“[T]he plan improves on traditional Medicare’s benefits and expands coverage to all Americans. It would eliminate premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance.”
Like Medicare, it would be federally financed and administered at the federal, state and local levels—eliminating the need for private insurance.
According to the Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office estimates, and several consulting firms, administrative savings from universal single-payer coverage would be enough to provide quality health and dental care for all Americans—with no increase overall in spending.
“Physicians in private practice would continue to practice on a fee-for-service basis with fee levels set in negotiations with the” National Health Program (NHP), PNHP explained.
“Physicians working in nonprofit hospitals, clinics, capitated group practices, HMO’s, and integrated health systems would be salaried.”
As in other countries worldwide, drug prices would be negotiated with producers, bulk purchases lowering costs, the way things work abroad.
Pharmacists would be paid wholesale costs plus a dispensing fee for services provided.
Marketplace medicine based on the ability to pay would be eliminated. “Investor ownership of the health care delivery system (hospitals, clinics, etc.) would not be allowed because it raises costs and reduces quality,” said PNHP.
“Regionally dominant health systems and Accountable Care Organizations would be publicly controlled to prevent them from exploiting oligopoly market power.”
Financing the program would combine current revenue sources with modest new taxes—overall costs to consumers becoming far less than now.
The NHP would be a boon to all Americans, notably the vast majority of middle and low income ones, along with millions too poor to afford healthcare the way it should be when ill or injured.
Universal healthcare is a fundamental right for everyone whose time has come. Making it the law of the land requires long-term struggle—advancing things a step at a time, enlisting mass public support until attaining it is achieved.
That’s how all long-term struggles worth fighting for are won.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.