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How are you going to pay for it? 

  • Tip of a Pen Mike Watson Images

Published: 4/9/2020 2:42:16 PM
Modified: 4/9/2020 2:42:03 PM

That was the big question that was repeated over and over again during the presidential debates. Both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were repeatedly asked this question.

And although both of them answered truthfully and honestly, in the next round of debates they were asked it again as if the question were never fully answered.

The answer was and still is that Medicare for All, a single-payer plan that would provide health coverage for all Americans, and do away with private health insurance companies, would actually save money. It would save money for individuals and for families; it would save money for businesses small and large and for nonprofits and other employers such as cities and towns and school districts. Insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles would be replaced by a payroll tax on employers and employees and a tax on the very wealthy. The question has also been answered by several nation-wide studies — and was even the conclusion of a foundation that opposed single payer.

Now it becomes obvious after the passage of a $2 trillion dollar emergency plan to aid us in our battle with The COVID-19 virus that money wasn’t really the issue. If our nation really needs to rise to the occasion of a national disaster — it can.

It is clear that we, as a country, would be incredibly better off if Medicare for All had actually become law before this crisis!

Today, there are still people in our country who can get a free COVID-19 test, but do not know how they are going to pay for health care if they test positive for the virus. We have millions of people with no health insurance at all. And we also have millions of insured people with such high deductibles that they cannot afford to go to the doctor or, heaven forbid, be admitted into the hospital.

Right now — during all the layoffs and job losses and business closures — we understand that access to health care should never have been tied to employment or the ability to pay for private insurance. Universal access to health care is not just something individuals need but is necessary for the public health of a community.

Why did not the legislators, the president and the governors not listen to the heartbreaking stories of ill and injured citizens unable to pay for their health care bills? Reforms were made under Clinton and Obama — but it was never universal — it helped only in incremental ways.

Why did not the other presidential candidates and the debate moderators understand this? Perhaps they did and were just opposed to Medicare for All because they cared more about the health insurance industry and the for profit healthcare corporations than the health of the people.

How are you going to pay for it ? The question is now revealed as a way to cavalierly dismiss a serious proposal that would benefit the whole country. The fact that Joe Biden, even under these dire health care circumstances, still does not support Medicare for All just shows that he has learned no lessons from this crisis and can’t move beyond previous Democrat and Republican administrations. For the Trump administration, even Obamacare — the ACA, goes too far. This shows that the Republicans have no understanding of the real need for universal health care even in this present crisis.

Let us all hope that our legislators, after having witnessed the chaos of our healthcare system during this dreadful crisis, will put Medicare for All on the top of the list of lessons learned and legislation that needs to be passed.

Here are two of the important studies:

Economic Analysis of Medicare for All, PERI Institute, Robert Pollin, et al.

Improving the prognosis of health care in the USA, Lancet, Prof Alison B Galvoni et al.

Judith Atkins heads the Single Payer Task Force of the Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution in Greenfield.

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