It is time for Medicare for all so that everyone can have affordable health insurance
I was the healthcare staffer for Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09; Memphis) for a year; I saw first-hand how big a mess health insurance really is. We can fix it so that everyone can have accessible and affordable health insurance.
There are three major fixes to the ACA that need to happen.
The first is allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. This creates larger risk pools and thus reduces insurance premiums.
Second is to allow Medicare to negotiate drug pricing. This will result in controlled prescription drug pricing.
Third is restructuring of the federal insurance supplement. At present, the very poor and the very rich can afford insurance, but those in the middle class are facing absurd insurance premiums.
The federal subsidies need to be restructured to help the middle class. The only effective long-term solution to the problem is a single-payer system like Medicare for all. The version of “Medicare for all” put forth by Senator Bernie Sanders is sound and workable, but will be fiercely opposed by the health insurance lobby. Making record profits off sick people cannot continue unabated. Though the insurance industry will fight against single-payer insurance, some in the insurance industry are starting to realize that the current system is unsustainable. The CEO of Aetna recently told his employees that “we should have a debate” about single-payer health insurance coverage.
Currently, 1/5 of all prescriptions for medications go unfilled because patients do not have the money to fill them. This cannot continue and would be resolved if we had Medicare for all, with fixed pricing for both medical procedures and prescription drugs. I’m willing to fight the health insurance industry for you, because I understand what you are going through. Healthcare in this country can be changed if we have the political will to do so.
Repair of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a stopgap in us getting to Medicare for all. If the ACA is repealed by the Republicans, costs for both healthcare and drug pricing will skyrocket. The biggest lie often repeated about the ACA is that it led to a rise in insurance premiums. In fact, it kept them down compared with pre-ACA increases, for eight years. Some folks did see a steep rise in premiums because they had “mall insurance,” which was often sold at kiosks in shopping malls and was worthless. Those kinds of insurance policies covered almost nothing. For example, most didn’t cover hospitalization! The ACA eliminated them, and made policy coverage uniform so that you couldn’t be tricked into buying a worthless policy anymore. That is but one of the many important provisions of the ACA that need to be protected.
The failure of the state of Mississippi to expand Medicaid was a disaster for everyone in the state. Medicaid expansion would have let our most impoverished citizens have health insurance that they could use to regularly visit a doctor and, importantly, to stop using emergency rooms as primary care facilities. Instead, the expansion was blocked by the Governor. It was a cold, cruel political prank played on the poorest of us. All of us here ended up paying for it due to the resulting state pool of those needing health insurance. Because of the lack of Medicaid expansion, Mississippi has some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. Even worse, the Republican repeal of the ACA would take away Medicaid from 289,000 people who presently do receive Medicaid in Mississippi, with 71,000 of those being in the first congressional district. Kicking that many people in the state off Medicaid alone will result in skyrocketing premiums for Mississippians.
It is time for Medicare for all so that everyone can have affordable health insurance regardless of geography, pre-existing conditions, or employment status.