Medicare–Our Single-Payer Health Care Program

The Medicare Advocacy  Center has published this concise rundown on Medicare, which is well worth keeping in mind amidst all the ads and counter-ads swirling around us:

Forty four  years ago Medicare was enacted into law. All of today’s dire warnings about a public health option – socialism and government barring the doctor’s door – were made in opposition to Medicare. Despite such opposition from “conservative,” leaders, Medicare passed because of some courageous, principled law-makers.

Before Medicare, 50% of everyone 65 or older had NO health insurance. Now, as a result of Medicare, almost all older people are insured. Medicare, which is national, government-run health insurance, succeeded in insuring older people where private insurance failed. Further, until the Bush Administration privatized Medicare with huge subsidies to private “Medicare Advantage” and Part D plans, Medicare was also remarkably cost-effective. It’s private Medicare, not the traditional, public program, that’s bleeding taxpayers of billions of dollars.

Medicare has been a success, fiscally and morally. It took on the job of insuring health coverage and care to people that private insurance had abandoned. Since 2003, on the other hand, private Medicare plans have cost us all tens of billions of dollars that went to support the private insurance industry, not to providing health care. In addition, private Medicare plans have too often engaged in marketing abuses and restrictive coverage practices.

As numerous studies have shown, people with Medicare love it. They do not want government to fool around with the traditional program. Ironically, some people with Medicare are arguing against a public health care reform option–while also telling the government “to keep its hands-off their Medicare!” They, and their family members, (which accounts for pretty much all of us), forget that the traditional Medicare program is a public health insurance option.

Meet Medicare: Our 44 year-old public health insurance option that provides care to all its enrollees everywhere in the country, and that has provided health and economic security for millions of older people, people with disabilities, and their families. For two generations, the public Medicare program has shown what a true public insurance program can offer: health insurance for the otherwise uninsured, at a price that taxpayers can afford.

Now, for all generations, we need a public option in health reform!

3 responses to “Medicare–Our Single-Payer Health Care Program

  1. You made good points about the genesis of Medicare, but what about the fact, like all collectivist plans, it’s going broke to the tune of many trillions and we want to push the whole country into this model.

    So much debate is going on pointing out how bad the collectivist approach of the Obama/Democrats will be for our health care, but where is the advocacy of a workable solution?

    Here is a brief outline of where we need to go with US health care:

    The Modern Health Care Solution

    We need to reset our health care system back to a free-market, patient-driven system. Every other successful part of our society runs this way- why not our health care for goodness sake?! We need:

    1. Market-based pricing of health care. We need medical Care/Service/Procedures priced up front like everything else in our society- not the price/cost black-boxes of today’s employer and government-subsidized health care.

    2. Minute-clinics and similar no-appointment, transparently-priced clinics are going in the right direction of delivering this concept:

    3. Just like with the fair, portability of pre-tax 401k’s, we need fair, portable pre-tax health savings accounts for everyone to save their own money over time, make their own decisions on health care, and pay it with their own money.

    4. Make health care ‘insurance’ back into actual insurance. Couple health savings accounts with high-deductible catastrophic health insurance policies that people buy like they do for life insurance or car insurance.

    5. Reform the medical malpractice system and the laws driving it. In some cases, up to 25% of the cost of individual health care is extra tests and procedures run by doctors to ‘bullet proof’ themselves from malpractice lawsuits.

    The above approach gives everyone the access, proper control, and choice over their health- not the opposite helplessness dictated by some far away, faceless bureaucrat.

  2. I am one of the 70% or more of Americans who like the health insurance that they have. Why not fix what needs fixing and not trash the whole system. I do not trust Obama. Why should I trust a person who would not vote to give medical assistance to those late-term babies who survived abortions?

    From CounterPunch:

    But what is a conservative meant to think? Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos, why should they not be suspect in their intentions toward those gasping in the thin air of senility? There is a strong eugenic thread to American progressivism, most horribly expressed in its very successful campaign across much of the twentieth century to sterilize “imbeciles.” Abortion is now widening in its function as a eugenic device. Women in their 40s take fertility drugs, then abort the inconvenient twins, triplets or quadruplets when they show up on the scan.

    In 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand nationwide, virtually all children with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, were born. Less than a decade later, with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.

    One survey of 499 primary care physicians treating women carrying these babies, however, indicated that only 4 percent actively encourage women to bring Down syndrome babies to term. A story on the CNS News Service last year quoted Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life, reacted to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pre-natal testing endorsement as another step toward eugenics.“The progress of eugenic abortion into the heart of our society is a classic example of “mission creep,’ ” Johnson said. “In the 1960s, we were told that legal abortion would be a rare tragic act in cases of exceptional hardship. In the ’70s abortion began to be both decried and accepted as birth control. In the ’80s respected geneticists pointed out that it was cheaper to hunt for and abort Down’s babies than to raise them. By the ’90s that observation had been widely put into action. Now we are refining and extending our eugenic vision, with new tests and abortion as our central tools.”

    So if we have mission creep in the opening round, what’s to persuade people that there won’t be mission creep at the other and the kindly official discussing living wills won’t tiptoe out of the ward and tell the hospital that the old fellow he’s just conferred with is ripe to meet his maker. The author of the provision – now dropped – in the health bill before Congress – for “end of life” counseling was Democratic Rep Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Blumenauer has denounced the “death panel” description as a “terrible falsehood.” Maybe so. But Blumenauer is hot for “death with dignity”, as a speech he made in Congress in 2000 makes clear: “A major concern [in an attempted revision of the Balanced Budget Act]is a provision that would criminalize decisions doctors make on pain management for the most seriously ill and overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Oregonians have twice voted to support the assisted suicide law. H.R. 2614 not only is an attack on the Democratic process, but also threatens to pain management. There is evidence that doctors are increasingly hesitant to prescribe pain medications to terminally ill patients for fear of being accused of unlawfully assisting a suicide. The on-going attempts by Congress to criminalize the doctor-patient relationship are a threat to pain management in all fifty states.”

  3. Single payer medicare is going broke because, look at who they take care of, the old and the sick. The people private insurance deny. You too, if you get old or sick enough will some day be denied.

    Americans pay 2.4 trillion dollars a year for health care. Insurance companies get 31% of that, for what? What service do they provide for 31%? They take your money, cut out their profits and hold the power of life and death over you. Insurance companies don’t make profits by paying claims.

    Barb, wouldn’t you like to keep the same care you have now? But at a lot cheaper price and more benefits? Right now you run the risk of being dropped if you get cancer. Under single payer you have coverage from womb to tomb.

    I’am for single payer. It’s not changing the care, it’s changing how we pay for it. I support letting states enact single payer if they want. I think blue states will have it first. The down side for red states is, if blue states enact single payer first companies in their states will relocate to blue states to be more cost effective.

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