Mayling Simpson: Medicare-for-All
May 11, 2017
I am convinced that the new American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives and now being considered by the Senate is not about health care at all. It is simply about cutting taxes for the rich. It is also about accruing savings for increasing the military budget.
Our rich are already the richest in the world (we have 540 billionaires), and our military has twice the budget of the next eight countries combined. But greed really has no end.
The American Public Health Association and many other medical associations have publically denounced this bill, but our Representatives who crafted this bill refused to listen to any public health professionals or health economists. They simply do not care about the impact of this bill on public health or bankruptcies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of March 31, 28.4 million Americans remain uninsured. The new American Health Care Act, or Trumpcare, will add another 24 million to the uninsured, making 52.4 million, or 1/6 of our population, unable to afford high health care bills. Uninsured people do not seek preventive or early care for ailments, causing expensive crisis care in emergency rooms and advanced illnesses hard to treat.
Since the enactment of Obamacare in 2010 and the expansion of coverage, annual bankruptcy filings have dropped by half, from 1.5 million to 771,000. With Trumpcare, twice as many people will be without insurance. We can expect those annual filings to increase once again, and companies owed money will be stiffed. It is all such a useless waste of resources just to keep a for-profit system going.
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The main problem with the new proposed American Health Care Act is that it does not address the two deepest flaws in our system — for-profit health insurance and lack of universal coverage.
There are so many gains to be had from pooling our resources under one nonprofit health insurance system that covers everyone, which we call Medicare-for-All.
First and foremost, a federally-funded national insurance system can lower costs by negotiating prices with drug companies and medical suppliers.
Second, many layers of administration become unnecessary, saving on average 30 percent of health care costs.
Third, our health outcomes would improve, as they have in every other country of the world that has gone to universal health care. Among the 17 highest income countries, the U.S. is ranked 17th for health outcomes, and we pay twice as much for health care. World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th in the world for the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system.
Fourth, better health outcomes save money for everyone. As populations become healthier, they use fewer services.
Fifth, nobody dies from lack of insurance, and nobody goes bankrupt due to unaffordable care.
As 54 other countries with affordable universal health care have shown, this is really a no-brainer. Warren Buffett said that our excessive health care costs are a bigger drain on the American economy than taxes.
People are waking up to the reality that health care should not be about profits. It should be about public health and the value of human lives.
A January Pew Research Center survey showed that 60 percent of Americans believe that government "should be responsible for ensuring health-care coverage for all Americans." Our representatives are not listening.
Just as the South had to give up slavery, because human lives were more valuable than profits, we must give up for-profit health insurance for the lives of all Americans. Call on Senators Bennett and Gardner. Tell them to trash this AHCA and support Medicare-for-All.