Bill Knight column for Thurs, Fri, or Sat., May 25, 26 or 27
A universal, single-payer approach to health care in the United States is gaining support. In fact, in regular America if not Capitol Hill, its proponents now include self-styled socialists who backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries last year, and Trump voters. Further, bills have been re-introduced in Washington and some states to achieve a “Medicare for All” system.
With little media attention and virtually no support from Democrats or Republicans, 59 percent of the public already favors Medicare for All, according to a recent poll from Pew Research Center. Broken down by party affiliations, 80 percent of Democrats back it, 60 percent of independents and even 30 percent of Republicans. Detailed further, Medicare for All is favored by 40 percent of Americans who voted for Donald Trump, according to an Economist/YouGov poll.
Compare those numbers to the AHCA’s 31-percent support, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey, which says that 44 percent oppose it and a fourth aren’t sure.
Besides New York, Minnesota and California have pending bills on such statewide single-payer systems, which would work like Medicare, with government handling payments for an all-inclusive plan. In Washington, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced in the House of Representatives the U.S. National Health Care Act (“Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” H.R. 676), which as of last week had 110 co-sponsors, including Illinois Democratic U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky. In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is introducing a Medicare for All measure backed by progressives such as Illinois’ U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
“Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said. “Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. The only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program.
“If every major country on Earth guarantees health care to all people and costs a fraction per capita of what we spend,” he continued, “don’t tell me that in the United States of America, we cannot do that.”
The New York Health Act would afford all state residents access to comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, prescription drugs, behavioral health services, laboratory testing, and rehabilitative care, as well as dental, vision and hearing coverage. There would be no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays; the plan would be funded through progressively raised taxes, including a surcharge that would be split 80/20 between employers and employees.
“Almost all New Yorkers would pay less than they currently do because they would be able to replace their current plans with this more affordable state-based plan,” said New York legislator Richard Gottfried.
“One [advantage] is that a single-payer plan will allow providers to economize on the costs of handling the billing and insurance-related expenses,” commented Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Introduced and defeated in New York in the past, the 2017 bill could see passage this time.
“Similar proposals passed the Assembly in previous years, but this is the first year it has a fighting chance in the state’s Senate,” wrote Laurel Raymond for ThinkProgress.
The current Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the GOP’s new AHCA have been criticized by Trump voters as well as progressives for a dependence on profit-oriented insurers.
“The problem is putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse,” said Rochester, N.Y., Trump voter Tim Schiefen on public radio. “Why are we allowing these gross, overspending health insurance companies to administer this stuff?”
Republicans’ new plan would benefit the wealthy and cause more than 20 million Americans tolose coverage.
“As the radical right wing in Washington try to disguise a $500 billion tax cut for the super-rich and insurance giants as a health-care bill, the New York State Assembly is leading the way with the only kind of health-care bill that will put people before profits, and make health care what it should be: a human right,” said consumer advocate Ivette Alfonso, president of Citizen Action of New York.
Trump supporter Schiefen added, “Let’s put aside the differences. Let’s get to the root of the concern.”
[PICTURED: Graphic from medicareforall.org.]