Medicare For All

For too long, Americans’ access to affordable healthcare has been dependent on having a good job with a large employer. With Expanded and Improved Medicare For All, we can insure all Americans and reduce bureaucratic waste. Even with the Affordable Care Act, many students, caregivers, self-employed individuals, those who work for small businesses, or those between jobs, cannot afford healthcare coverage.

Too many of our families face the terrifying prospect of going bankrupt if they get a serious illness or have to go to the hospital. Many will still end up declaring bankruptcy even with employer-provided insurance if they get a serious prolonged illness.  

Why is America the only advanced country that does not have a national healthcare plan for all of its citizens? Every other country has recognized that a national health system is a less expensive and more just system. Decades of compromise and half-measured laws have brought about a complicated, burdensome, multiple-payer private insurance system that bogs down healthcare providers with time consuming paperwork and allows insurance industry bureaucrats to dictate patient’s care instead of a doctor’s judgement.

The healthcare lobby (mainly composed of pharmaceutical and private insurance industries) is the most powerful lobby in Washington and expends a great deal of effort opposing programs like Medicare For All (MFA). Election after election, they have been able to take unified Republican opposition to MFA for granted, and they now direct a great deal of their energies on centrist Democrats. The powerful House Minority Leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi replied with a quick “no” to the question of whether Democrats should make Medicare For All a priority in the 2018 elections. Not coincidentally, Rep. Pelosi receives more money from the healthcare lobby than from any other special interest group.

Some candidates in the Second District Congressional race support only “strengthening” the Affordable Care Act or possibly allowing individuals to buy-in to a “public option” of Medicare. Both of these options maintain the absolutely unaffordable multi-payer system which costs our nation almost double what a single payer system would cost.  

The added expense of maintaining a multi-payer system will have to be borne by regular citizens, in the form of ever increasing co-pays and deductibles that serve as barriers to care for many Americans. Half of Americans do not have more than $400 in savings to pay for “cost sharing” hoops that they must jump through before they can access care. Single-Payer Medicare For All would also be free at the point-of-service, meaning no co-pays or no deductibles, thus no fighting insurance companies.

The House of Representatives is the People’s House. It is the congressional body from which legislation that represents the needs of the people should originate. I have spent my entire political career in activism fighting against the overwhelming influence of unaccountable money in politics. Through my activism and in this campaign, I concluded that the only way to get needed legislation such as H.R. 676, Single-Payer Medicare For All, through Congress is to have candidates that are not beholden to special interests to run for Congress.

From the first day I announced my candidacy for Arkansas’s Second District, I have refused to accept any PAC money so that I can be free to represent the needs of the people of Arkansas.


Medicare For All is a universal, single-payer healthcare program that would provide insurance to every American. Under this system, every American resident would receive coverage for all services provided by a healthcare professional, such as primary care, hospital, preventive, and long-term care, mental health, substance abuse treatment, palliative care, dental, vision, hearing, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Healthcare providers such as doctors and hospitals would remain private under this system and would attract patients by competing with each to offer the best care to consumers who would have unlimited choice in the provider they select.

The private insurance system imposes restrictive networks and limits people’s access to their preferred doctors and hospitals based on these networks. With Medicare For All, patients would regain real choice over doctors and hospitals with no networks and would be able to afford the care they need.

Under a single-payer system, the federal government would become the sole provider of health insurance (the only “payer”) in the United States. This differs from our current “multi-payer” system, in which a complex network of private insurance companies provide insurance while charging increasingly high premiums and deductibles.

A single-payer system is the only way that America’s soaring healthcare costs can be contained, because Medicare would be able to leverage its power to negotiate for reasonable prices on behalf of the American people who could go then take their universally accepted insurance to receive care at whichever doctor or hospital they choose.

No. “Socialized medicine” refers to a system, like the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, in which the government owns and operates hospitals, and doctors and healthcare professionals are government employees. Medicare For All would create a system most similar to Canada’s Medicare program, the most successful example of a single-payer system currently in place. The government would pay private providers to deliver care to all Americans.

Currently, the U.S. spends almost 18% of its GDP on healthcare costs due to the massive, inefficient bureaucracy of the private insurance industry. This is the highest amount of healthcare spending in the world. With a streamlined, single-payer system, we will see savings of around $500 billion annually.

The system would be funded mostly by existing tax revenue, with modest new taxes that would be offset by the elimination of premiums and out of pocket costs. Due to these savings, the average American family of four making $50,000 a year would save approximately $5,800 a year in healthcare premiums and businesses would save over $9,000 a year in healthcare premiums per employee.

While many employers do currently provide insurance to their workers, this insurance still requires workers pay towards their premiums and can disappear in an instant if that person loses their job. An outdated system of tying insurance to employment also leads to individuals staying in jobs they may wish to leave only to keep their healthcare coverage.

Under Medicare For All, everyone would be covered regardless of where they work, and could seek the employment they want or start their own business without fear of losing access to the healthcare they need.

No; in fact, it will do just the opposite. Currently, we ration healthcare based on ability to pay: those who have the money can get whatever care they need, while those who don’t are shut out of the care they need. Approximately 30,000 Americans die every year due to lack of insurance. With Medicare For All, every American will be able to get the care they need efficiently and effectively.

Opponents of single-payer healthcare often cite long wait times for non-urgent procedures as an inevitable downside to guaranteed healthcare coverage. However, wait times have never been an issue for urgent care and can easily be shortened for non urgent procedures by implementing more efficient scheduling processes. Ultimately, a single-payer Medicare For All program is the only way to ensure healthcare as a right to every American, not a privilege for the wealthy.


Putting Medicare For All in place will immediately provide coverage to the approximately 28 million Americans who still cannot afford insurance, even under the Affordable Care Act. While the ACA made significant gains, it still maintains and subsidizes the complex web of private insurance companies that charge extremely high premiums to customers who cannot hope to afford them. With a single-payer Medicare For All program, the need for private insurance will disappear and the gaps in coverage that currently exist will be filled in.

Current Medicare coverage does not include vision, hearing, or dental services. You will still pay significant co-pays with hospitalizations and outpatient services if you do not also carry secondary private insurance.  But most significantly, Medicare in its current form does not cover Long Term Care. If you fall and break your hip, Medicare will currently cover 3 weeks of Acute Rehabilitation services, but if you or your spouse are still unable to regain independence after your covered rehab period is up, you will have to pay cash for skilled nursing services until you exhaust your savings down to the level at which you qualify for Medicaid.  

Then once your savings are gone, the state will cover your Nursing Home care under the Medicaid program. We should fight for a healthcare system that does not require households to liquidate their accumulated lifetime savings simply for suffering common debilitations related to aging.

Adding a public option or Medicare buy-in will not solve the problems with our healthcare system for multiple reasons. Adding a public option would not eliminate the need for private insurance and the massive amount of administrative waste that goes along with it. The “public option” maintains the private insurance industry’s role by design, not because it adds any value to America's healthcare, but because the healthcare lobby is the most power special-interest group in Washington.

The “public option” would create a two-tiered system in which the sickest Americans purchase the public option while the wealthy continue to purchase more expensive plans that cover a wider array of treatments. We can see this currently in the rise of Medicare Advantage plans that compete with traditional Medicare. A buy-in that lowered the Medicare eligibility age to 55 would have similar results if it was not mandated: it would simply become the plan where all the sickest patients become concentrated (the “high-risk pool”), thus driving up healthcare costs and premiums across the board.

While both these programs would certainly improve on the current system, they would not fix the runaway costs of a multi-payer system and the high prices for healthcare would once again be passed along to the patient in ever increasing co-pays and deductibles.

Read more about the difference between Medicare For All and a public option here.

Not only is Medicare For All a realistic goal, support for it has grown tremendously in recent years both amongst voters and legislators. Currently, Keith Ellison’s bill, HR 676: Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, has the support of the majority of the House Democratic Caucus with 121 cosponsors.

Clearly this bill won’t become law during a Republican administration, but will be easily passed into law with a Democratic President and Congress if you vote for candidates that clearly support Medicare For All as opposed to a “public option.” Medicare For All enjoys widespread popularity among the American public, with 60% of the general public, 75% of Democrats, and 46% of Republicans. The for-profit healthcare industry knows this level of support is something that they must fight against to maintain their hold on the Washington establishment.

A single-payer Medicare For All plan is an imminently winnable goal, and one we should seek to put into place as soon as possible.

 


 

 

The human and economic toll of chronic disease in the United States has risen to an unsustainable level over the last few decades to the point at which now over 75% of all health care expenses in the U.S. can be attributed to chronic disease. Instead of treating only the symptoms of chronic diseases, we should focus our healthcare dollars on preventing the causes of chronic diseases.