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"Medicare for All" Gains Traction After GOP Health-Care Fail

Some doctors think expanding Medicare could be the answer to the country's health-care problems. (medicare.gov)
Some doctors think expanding Medicare could be the answer to the country's health-care problems. (medicare.gov)
March 31, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS - With a revamp of the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act said to be in the works, the debate over how to fix health care in the United States is heating up again.

While partisan divides remain deep, Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, said this is a golden opportunity for President Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits by moving beyond for-profit models.

"America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system," Pearson said. "It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right."

Pearson said the Medicare for All Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would provide immediate and comprehensive coverage to all Americans by expanding Medicare, the popular single-payer program already in place for people age 65 and older. Critics have said it would be too costly, but independent analysis of similar legislation found that 95 percent of U.S. households would pay less than the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

Pearson, while not a fan of the ill-fated "Trumpcare" proposal, noted that the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He said a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.

"There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance; there would be very small co-pays," he said, "and so nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill."

Even though more people have insurance since the rollout of the ACA, Pearson said, nearly 2 million Americans go bankrupt each year because of health-care expenses. A National Day of Action calling for universal guaranteed health care is set for Saturday, April 8, the first day of the congressional recess.

The Conyers bill's text is online at congress.gov, and an analysis is at pnhp.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MN