Physicians call for Medicare for All
COURT UPHOLDS “OBAMACARE,” BUT THOUSANDS OF UNINSURED WA RESIDENTS WILL STILL GO BANKRUPT, SUFFER AND DIE
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Obama and Congress must act now to implement ‘an improved Medicare for all,’ physician group says.
In the wake of today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama and Congress must now move to implement a single-payer national health insurance plan – an improved Medicare for All according to the Washington State chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program a national physician-led advocacy group. Despite its modest benefits, the ACA was fatally flawed from the outset by virtue of the central role (and taxpayer subsidies) it gave to the private health insurance industry. That industry maximizes profits by raising premiums and minimizing payouts for care. The enacted provisions of the ACA will not achieve universal coverage in WA State, will not make health care affordable and leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness. Today’s ruling effectively solidifies the backroom deal between the for-profit health care industry and the Obama Administration designed to create about 20 million new customers for insurance companies in 2014.
Even after the remaining provisions of the ACA are implemented in 2014, the act will leave at least 26 million people uninsured nationally. Hundreds of Washington State residents will continue to die annually due to lack of health insurance. Currently, about one million Washington residents are uninsured according to the State Insurance Commissioner, 14.5% of the population. The ACA will cover only about half of them in 2014, many with inadequate coverage. The vast majority of residents will also continue to be at a high risk of financial ruin – more than 60% of bankruptcies and 50% of foreclosures are linked to excessive medical expenses, even for those with insurance coverage.
An improved Medicare for all system would be truly universal, effective, economical and clearly constitutional. Research shows the savings in administrative costs alone would amount to $400 billion annually, enough to cover everyone with no increase in U.S. health spending. As the Medicare program, the Veterans Health Administration and the health systems of other developed nations have demonstrated, such an approach is feasible and cost-effective. Our national and Washington State economies, which are being dragged down by our dysfunctional and costly health system, urgently need such fundamental reform. Resources wasted in this system are badly needed to prop up our deteriorating educational and other public infrastructure.
Health care has been recognized as a human right since 1948, with the adoption by the United Nations, with U.S. support, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. signing of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Legislation before Congress, notably H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” would enact a process to convert to a national health care program. Since Congress seems to be incapable of constructive action in the near future, states like Vermont, Oregon and California are moving ahead with state universal single-payer plans. The Washington Health Security Trust (WHST) is such a bill in our WA State legislature, sponsored by Representatives Bob Hasagawa and Sherry Appleton.
“The American people desperately need a universal health system that delivers comprehensive, equitable, compassionate and high-quality care, with free choice of provider and no financial barriers to access,” said PNHPWW President James Squire. “Polls have repeatedly shown an improved Medicare for all, which meets these criteria, is the remedy preferred by two-thirds of the population. A solid majority of the medical profession favors such an approach and now is the time to act!”