Why Congress hates Medicare for All

Health insurance companies provide Republicans and Democrats in Congress with inordinately large campaign contributions.  The health insurance lobbyists spend lavishly on our US Representatives and Senators.  Improved Medicare for All would put health insurance companies out of business and would end the money on which our representatives depend.

Thirty-seven countries spend less on health care and have better outcomes than we do in the US.  For the most part, those countries have modeled their health care systems on the US Medicare model.  Moving all citizens to Improved Medicare for All would be a no brainer.  The system is already in place.  Here’s what Improved Medicare for All would look like.

All citizens would be issued Medicare cards at birth.  In addition to covering traditional health care and preventive services, eye care, dental and hearing would be covered.  Emergency, hospital and doctor’s office services would be covered.  There would be no premium to pay, no co-pays and no deductible.  Did you read that last sentence?  There would be no premium to pay, no co-pays and no deductible. To get health care services, you would simply present your Medicare card.

This is how it would be paid for.  Currently, the insurance companies pay about 80 cents of every dollar they take in for health care.  Of that 80 cents, 30 cents is spent by the doctor’s office (or hospital, etc.) to seek approval for services or file claims (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53942/).  That leaves 50 cents to spend on actual health services.  With Improved Medicare for All, approximately 2 cents would be spent by the doctor’s office to file a claim for payment.  That leaves 98 cents to spend on actual health care.

As outlined in House Bill H.R.676, Improved Medicare for All would be paid for with a progressive tax.  The top 60% of wage earners would pay 6%.  The remaining 40% (earning about $53,000/year or less) would pay a 3% payroll tax.  Employers would also contribute.  (http://healthoverprofit.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Financing-National-Improved-Medicare-for-All-in-the-United-States.pdf)

H.R.676 is the Improved Medicare for All bill that has been introduced in the House.  More than 100 of our representatives are co-sponsors of the bill.  Unfortunately, very few of them are likely to vote for it.  In 2012, the health care industry provided our representatives with nearly $59 million in campaign contributions (https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09).  Our lawmakers are not going to give up that money easily.  Our only solution might be to remove all incumbents from office in 2018 and replace them with people who will commit to voting for H.R.676.  Remember, they were elected to work for us, not for the health care industry.  The time and energy Congress has spent to desperately help health insurance companies with “repeal and replace” is tragic.  Improved Medicare for All is the easiest and most logical fix.  It just makes sense.

Improved Medicare for All is a no brainer.  Please read more about it at http://www.pnhp.org/hr676.

Beth Jezek

Beth Jezek is retired and lives in Asheville

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