Once again it appears the Republican Party is missing the boat, the reality, and the first step of preparation for the future. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan was the discussion of breakfast last Sunday morning by my friends, my wife, and myself. After we placed our orders with the waitress, I broached the subject and the first words that jumped out of a friend’s mouth was “Socialized medicine.”
Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 or older or have a severe disability, no matter your income. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage if you have a very low income. The two terms refer to two different entities, but for most people are thought of as one in the same.
Wikipedia: “Socialized medicine is a term used to describe and discuss systems of universal health care: medical and hospital care for all at a nominal cost by means of government regulation of health care and subsidies derived from taxation. Because of historically negative associations with socialism in American culture, the term is sometimes used pejoratively in American political discourse. The term was first widely used in the United States by advocates of the American Medical Association in opposition to President Harry S. Truman’s 1947 health-care initiative.”
Donald Trump made the Affordable Care Act a target for his presidential campaign. Both candidate Trump and President Trump like to single out people or programs they denigrate and call names. President Trump rails against the branded “Obamacare” so much that even his supporters have at times thought there were two different programs involved in Medicare. One the dreaded Obamacare and the other the Affordable Care Act that has saved and served many people with health care coverage from health care disaster. For two of us at the Hawks Prairie booth it meant that we could close our Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 free chronic health care clinic at Pacific Lutheran University when the health care law was enacted. We ran the clinic because of the high number of working poor who had no insurance coverage. We didn’t close the clinic until we made sure that everyone we had served or were under served were covered.
So far repeal has failed because congressmen and senators face would face opposition from large numbers of constituents who fear abandonment through hobbled bill or a completely dismantlement bill. By cutting monies for the program, millions of people would be adversely affected. And many of those millions are or could be voters. So, President Trump has painted himself into a corner by demanding repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act at the same time he was also promised to cut taxes. By appearances so far, it seems as if President Trump wants to cut taxes for the rich and punish the poor with a reduction or removal of health care.
Make no mistake, the Affordable Care Act costs money. Costs could be reduced by eliminating the need to work with many different insurance companies and compiling their versions of care and restrictions on people and state coverage. A Single Payer System could reduce costs. Sander’s “Medicare for all” would cover all citizens. Opposition has been steady since Truman first offered his initiative. Drug companies keep raising prices here in the U.S. One payer could certainly take the weight off our boomer retirees.
There is nothing new here. We would not be re-inventing the wheel. Actually, we would be nearly the last major country in the world to offer it. Countries with universal health care include Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Who doesn’t have universal health care? Most of South America, India, China. and almost all of Africa.
So, without universal health the U.S. and mostly third world countries are stuck in the past. The problem with this position is that within a very short time we must face the future.
Many banking institutions and high-tech industries predict layoffs of up to 40%. At the same time the growing AI (artificial intelligence) and robots community has predicted a cut in workers. Business as we know it is about to change. Unless we prepare for it, we will be swept away by it. Health care is just the first step.
We already have 3-D printers that can create a house in one day. 3-D printers can print food even: We can grow our own meat. Soon we’ll be using DNA to store data instead of hard drives. Science is moving forward. The future means many fewer workers. Education and ability will have little to do with it. Desire to work and a good work ethic will have no effect. What will we use for money? How and where will we live? These are the problems that we need to face now. Imagine millions and millions of people out of work with no health care.
Proponents of affordable health care and affordable housing have been seeking support for decades. Here in America, after ignoring health care coverage for seventy years, our elected officials are still fighting it. Our leaders should be leading us somewhere and not into the past. It’s time they listen, plan, and act soon. Please, share this article with your friends and relatives in other states.
Here in the United States we pay the most for healthcare but we do not always have the best outcomes. One huge advantage to single payer would be the ability to control healthcare costs. Our current fragmented system is one of the primary factors in our runaway medical costs. Single payer allows us to actually negotiate reasonable compensation rates.
Don Doman says
Thank you for writing. Here in Pierce County we have had good care at reasonable prices, but even those reasonable prices begin to get lost in the avalanche of escalating medicine costs. Single payer should give some relief (overseeing) to the outrageous prescription costs which seem to differ with every single visit to the pharmacy.
Again, thank you for writing AND for reading.
Loren Wright says
Look at the care provided by the Veterans Administration. If you to be able to die waiting for an appointment you want ‘Medicare for All’. Why are Canadians coming to the US for surgery. The myth that government run health care is superior to free market health care assumes that all or at least most government employees are altruistic moral people. The reality is that they are human beings that usually do NOT behave like saints.
Don Doman says
Thank you for writing, but I’m sorry, but you are basing your argument on a lie. “Why are Canadians coming to the US for surgery?” Was part of the falsehood shared by Candidate Donald Trump in the debates. In the debates Candidate Trump set off the “lie alarm” more than any other candidate. In the article “Fact Checker – Trump’s claim about Canadians traveling to the United States for medical care” the Washington Post reported that “According to a January 2016 report by the Commonwealth Fund, 41 percent of adults in Canada in 2013 were able to access same-day or next-day appointments when they were sick, compared with 48 percent in the United States. Emergency, urgent and primary care are prioritized for patients.” For the article and report to be wrong would mean there were lies by both the newspaper and the government of Canada. It’s much easier to believe that Donald Trump lied.
Again, thank you for both reading and writing.
Canadians are not coming to the US for surgery. In fact, because our system is so out of control, many people go to Mexico and countries south of us to obtain care at more reasonable prices. The model to follow would be that of Medicare for all. Those on Medicare don’t wait in lines, and if participation among all Americans for every day of their life was mandatory, costs would be equally shared among today’s young healthy and older and in need. Don’t forget, the young and healthy today will be older in need tomorrow, with any luck.
Don Doman says
Thank you for writing. Medicare funds Medicaid. Perhaps, as a single payer the costs for both physical health care and medicines could be controlled. Last year two friends went to Mexico for surgery and saved thousands of dollars. I really think that health care for all is the solution . . . especially with the oncoming social changes that will come with mass layoffs of tekkies and the attack of the robots. There are already AI (Artificial Intelligence) surgeons ready to step in. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but since we will have robot aided cars and trucks driving us to the hospitals, then . . . why not? Again, thank you for writing and reading.
Medical care is a complex issue, but there are a few points which need to be made:
1) Medical care is not a right–it is a privilege. Just as owning a house is something not everyone can afford, the sad truth is not everyone can afford expensive surgery. Individual responsibility has a role here–if a person needs medical care, perhaps his or her family, church, or local community should be the ones who voluntarily and not under compulsion provide funds for care. The Government cannot provide “free” anything–the money comes from taxpayers. For the Government to forcibly extract money from me with the threat of fines and/or jail time if I fail to comply, so that medical care can be given to someone else, is no different from me demanding each of my 10 neighbors give me $100,000 because I need a million-dollar medical procedure. Is that moral? I think not. What gives me the right to force others to take care of me?
2) Canadians do not get free medical care. About 30% is paid by individuals.
3) It is true many European countries offer government-provided healthcare. Many of these countries, however, are if worse financial trouble than we are. In addition, the United States funds a large and expensive military operation. One can argue the merits of that, but the best health-care in the world is meaningless if we get destroyed in a war!
4) Government health care will not save money. In Washington State it costs approximately $50 million per year just to administer the ACA exchanges–this does not include ANY actual medical care; it’s just the administrative costs. Indeed, I would argue much of the escalating costs of medical care is a result of complicated and confusing mandates and requirements instituted by the Government. As far as Medicare (and Social Security, for that matter), they are going broke. So much for Government efficiency!
The bottom line is this: Everyone cannot have everything they want (or even need). There is simply not enough money to pay for it. If there were, we’d all be driving Ferraris. We need compassion for others, and we should all be generous. It is not the Government’s job, however, to determine to whom we should give. Unfortunately, the world isn’t fair. It never was and it never will be. No matter how many laws are passed, human nature will always result in inequity. Maybe instead of expecting Government to solve all our problems, we should instead emphasize and teach the golden rule.
Don Doman says
You mention the “golden rule.” For years the joke of that statement has always been “Those with the gold make the rules.” And those are the people driving Ferraris. As you know I have long been an entrepreneur and a capitalist, however I don’t see anyway for this to continue. As an insurance agent I’m sure you’ve seen insurance companies finagling ways to avoid commissions and relying on a wider base of reaching people at low or no cost. If they can create a super insurance robot to sell and service customers they would do that in the blink of an eye. But I think they will also find that perhaps insurance companies are also a thing of the past. Technology has been eliminating jobs faster than new jobs are created. My point in the article is not that a single payer, or socialized medicine is the medical savior of the United States, but rather that as we lose job after job . . . worker after worker . . . position after position . . . we could very well find ourselves in a workerless society with AI robots doing most of the work. No work means no workers and no workers means no money for any kind of insurance . . . or food . . . or Ferraris. That is what our leaders need to be addressing and preparing for in our futures. Let us take care of our people’s health now and tackle the rest tomorrow . . . which is right around the corner.
Thanks for reading and writing.
Beverly Isenson says
The most efficiently-run medical care system in the US is Medicare, which has administrative costs of about 2%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Private insurance administrative costs are in the 17% range. The insurance companies get $17 of every dollar spent on health care, just for pushing paper around. Remember that when you hear a claim that private enterprise is always more efficient than government. It is not always true.
Don Doman says
Thank you for writing. I agree. I just checked the news that the latest repeal has failed. Perhaps, our leaders can now work on something to help us all . . . but somehow I doubt it. My point is that we need to move to universal health care now as preparation for a scary future of no jobs. This is what our elected officials should be considering.
Thank you again for writing . . . and reading.
One can say Medicare is wonderful, but a recent Article in Modern Healthcare online stated this:
Trustees’ report says Medicare will be insolvent by 2029
By Virgil Dickson | July 13, 2017
The Medicare trust fund will be insolvent by 2029, the program’s trustees reported today.
The prediction is a year later than the 2028 date the Obama administration outlined in last year’s report. The Congressional Budget Office in January 2016 estimated the program would be solvent only until 2026.
Don Doman says
I don’t recall saying the Medicare is wonderful. I’m saying that health care for all is needed. A dozen years from now is an instant in time. Our leaders need to be addressing the problems now. Recent events show that we are not that far from hating our neighbors. Religion instead of uniting us all is dividing the world, nations, and communities. We are all the same color under the skin. We are all the same people. We are all as nature made us . . . but we could sure use some guidance.
Thanks for writing . . . again.
p.s. A Yahoo bulletin just popped up that Saudi Arabia will now allow women to drive. Somehow we need to move quicker than ancient customs.
I agree we are all created equal, but not all religions are equal. The fact that one asks husbands to be willing to lay down their life for their wives while another is now just letting women drive is a testimony to that! (And, of course, all religions have those who misinterpret tenets from time to time!)
If you believe health care isn’t a right of all citizens you can stop reading here. If you are intelligent with ability to critically think things through, then read on.
As the republicans failed for 3rd time at repealing ACA, the victory for progressives this year is that there is a national conciousness about this finally and there are bills in the House and Senate that outline a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system, and they have record numbers of co-sponsors. This is momentum I did not expect as recently as a year ago.
HR 676 is considered the ‘gold standard’. It has been introduced every session since 2003 and it has broad support from the single payer healthcare movement. It would truly treat health care as a public necessity and not a commodity. Under HR 676, all people living in the US would be included in the system, there would be free choice of health professional, the coverage would be comprehensive and care would be provided as needed without financial barriers. HR 676 would create a publicly-financed not-for-profit healthcare system. It currently has 119 co-sponsors, all Democrats, plus Rep. John Conyers, who introduced it.
S 1804 is the Medicare for All Act in the Senate that was introduced September 13 by Senator Sanders with 16 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It has strengths and similarities to HR 676 as well as weaknesses. Its strengths are that it endeavors to achieve a universal Medicare for All system with more comprehensive coverage than what most people have now. It has strong language protecting women’s reproductive rights and it removes most co-pays and deductibles.
The weaknesses of S 1804 prevent it from fully transforming our healthcare system to a public service. Investor-owned facilities are permitted to continue to operate within the system and budgetary controls that might restrain them were excluded from the bill. Another weakness is the exclusion of long term care and keeping it in Medicaid, which forces people and their families to live in poverty to receive benefits.
Perhaps one of the greatest concerns about S 1804 is the long transition period. Most universal systems are started at once – on a certain date everyone is in the system. This is how we did Medicare as a totally new system in 1965 before we had computers. The delayed implementation period over four years is such a complex transition that there are concerns it will proceed poorly and support for a universal healthcare system will disappear before it is complete. With complexity, comes greater costs. HR 676 would start all at once, which would not only allow the savings needed to cover everyone but would also put us all in the same boat so that we all have an interest to fix any problems that arise.
Popular Resistance created a chart comparing HR 676 and S 1804 and a chart outlining the transition for S 1804.
Jim Kavanaugh of The Polemicist argues that S 1804 may actually be a “Trojan Horse” for the Democrat’s favored proposal, a public insurance they refer to as a ‘public option’ being added to the current mix. We call the ‘public option’ a “Profiteer’s Option” because it will serve as a relief valve for private insurers to jettison people who need care.
Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), a campaign of Popular Resistance, sent a letter to Sanders before he introduced his bill urging him not to compromise from the start. Thank you to all of you who wrote to his office. I love Bernie and the message he has taken from the sidelines to mainstream but am not willing to compromise.
Don Doman says
John, Thank you for writing. Is there any home for adoption of HR 676? I would guess not. Who is behind Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE). Do they have any hope for more acceptance?
Thanks for reading AND writing.
mandy Candler says
We are a self-employed couple. For the last three years, we have been cancelled by three separate Health insurance companies. We paid on time, we kept visits to a minimum, but the companies decided our pool was too expensive with too little profits.
I am now left an orphan by my husband’s aging into Medicare. There is minimal coverage in this state left for someone who does not want OBAMA CARE (call it what you like, but we had decent coverage until it arrived). I choose to see my doctors, keep myself healthy, but covered in the case of a surprise. Why is this so very difficult? and why are we self-payers now penalized?
Yes, the affordable care act has been responsible, in part, for the annual premium for my wife and me–about $20,000 per year. How is that affordable?
Don Doman says
Everyone knows that the Affordable Care Act has flaws. I am so irritated with the Republicans I could just spit! They can’t repeal the act because it would hurt millions of people in their own states, but instead of working together to fix the act, they work to repeal it in secret, hoping that their own constituents don’t understand the situation. It’s like the old saying “The rich get richer and the poor get the pi’tcher.” Perhaps if Donald Trump leaves office things will change, but I don’t think Pence is much better . . . but at least he doesn’ t stir the pot making us enemies around most of the world and looking just plain foolish to the rest. It’s been fun communicating today, anyway.
OK, I promise this will be my last post…? speaking of non-transparency; wasn’t it the Democrats that rushed through Obamacare without a single Republican vote, and without even reading the bill themselves?
Thanks for the stimulating debate!
Don Doman says
Chris, sure that’s what you saw now . . . however . . . my answer is no.
According to Mark Peterson, chair of the UCLA Department of Public Policy, one easy metric by which to judge transparency is the number of hearings held during the development of a bill, as well as the different voices heard during those hearings. So far, the GOP repeal efforts have been subject to zero public hearings.
In contrast, the ACA was debated in three House committees and two Senate committees, and subject to hours of bipartisan debate that allowed for the introduction of amendments. Peterson told us in an e-mail that he “can’t recall any major piece of legislation that was completely devoid of public forums of any kind, and that were crafted outside of the normal committee and subcommittee structure to this extent”.
Wow, there were a lot of comments about this article.
Lots of comments indeed! I’ve never seen so many in response to any previous article in the ST. I think everyone is so politically divided and raw at the moment that emotions are running pretty high about a lot of things.
Maybe I should protest all the hubbub by taking a knee. On second thought…:)
Don Doman says
Mandy, I know what you are saying. You are a great example of why we need to make it a right to have health care. Work, work, work and what is the reward? Every time I get a call from Safeway Pharmacy I cringe. What medicine is now cancelled? How much is the breather now? What’s the total bill to pick everything up? And we haven’t even got to the tipping point, yet. When the expected layoffs happen and AI and robots take away current jobs, there’ll be no money going in SS and that will just be the first domino. We need to stop working on repeal in secret and have both houses work together figuring out how to make universal health care available. Why are we so far behind in health care? Us, India, China and most of the third world countries of Africa are the only people left without health care. Something is wrong and our elected officials need to lead the way, but I don’t see it happening.
Thanks for reading and writing.
Don Doman says
I think what drives me to distraction is President Trump’s complete disregard for the people. It looks like he wants to make the Affordable Care Act even more confusing and expensive in the hopes that people will abandon the program. He doesn’t seem to understand people need the care AND the protection.
I think you’re on the right tract. I’m thinking we need to gather at the Century Link Field for the next Seahawk game AND we all take a knee. We could make the Guinness Record Book a second time with 67, 053 people taking a knee for unity. Take a Knee for Unity! Take a Knee for Unity! Take a Knee for Unity! We could have our Rotary clubs start it!
…as long as it’s not during the National Anthem! (insert smiley-face emoji here)
Don Doman says
Oh, come on . . . you can still drum while kneeling . . .
it’s so hard to reach all the way up to top of the the snare drum!