March 4, 2019
More On Medicare For All
By Michael D. Shaw
This column first covered the matter of Medicare For All a couple of months ago. In that piece, Senate bill S.1804, the most publicized of the proposals, was outlined. Highlights are that every resident of the US would be covered, and except for a small reimbursement for prescription drugs, there are no co-pays. Private insurance would essentially be eliminated, and the gigantic healthcare apparatus of the entire country would be under control of the federal government. (Sieg heil!)
The Nazi reference is no mere hyperbole. As the earlier article explained, Otto von Bismarck’s Health Insurance Law (1883) was transformed into total control of all medicine by Hitler, leading to the appalling Aktion T4 program, mandating that untold thousands of “unfit” individuals be euthanized. Think we’re far away from that? Virtual infanticide is now being embraced by many of our “progressive” politicians.
Not to be outdone, an even more generous bill will be introduced into the House, entitled “Medicare for All Act of 2019.” This one adds long-term care and abortion services, and would eliminate private insurance even quicker. Although proponents are not too specific on how all of this will be paid for, let alone how providers will line up to work for less money (as per current Medicare), they assure us that we will be saving money on healthcare.
Still, this comment from the House bill’s lead sponsor Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) gives some pause: “I have lots of ideas about how we can pay for this,” Jayapal said. “The question is not how we pay for this, but the question is: Where is the will to make sure every American has the healthcare they deserve and have the right to?”
Dear Pramila, perhaps the question should be: “What makes a progressive activist think she knows anything about healthcare?” Or even: How does she propose that her program would avoid the sometimes lethal wait times for diagnostics or specialist referrals, so common to the Canadian and British systems?
In a recent interview, Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, related the tragic story of her mother under the Canadian system, who presumably because of her age was denied a quick colonoscopy, and months later was admitted to the hospital with severe symptoms. Upon admission, she did get that colonoscopy, which confirmed that she was in the final stages of colon cancer.
Pipes advised me that the current average waiting time for a specialist in Canada is now 19.8 weeks. And, 63,000 Canadians cross the border each year to pay out of pocket for more immediate American healthcare. Moreover, the average Canadian family pays a “hidden” tax of $13,000/year for their coverage.
As to Medicare For All, Pipes notes that 71% (Kaiser poll) of those surveyed support it, under the rubric of “healthcare as a right.” But 55% of those polled thought that they would be able to keep their private insurance. When you tell them that there would be no private insurance, and that their taxes would likely increase, that figure drops to 37%.
Certainly, there are hard cases, and Americans without health insurance. So, wouldn’t the rational government action be to focus on those individuals? It would, of course, but the progressive faction is more interested in a power grab than healthcare. Channeling Rahm Emanuel’s (via Saul Alinsky) “Never let a crisis go to waste,” the relatively small number of hard cases—among the majority who are satisfied with their health coverage—becomes inflated into a crisis.
Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD, president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons [Omnia pro aegroto], and a noted commentator on healthcare issues confronts those progressives behind Medicare For All:
“The same people who clamor for a woman’s reproductive choice are strangely silent about everyone else’s freedom to choose the type of medical care they want. Patients and physicians should be free to pay for services and accept payment for services without being subject to penalties.”
We’ll close with some thoughts from The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future…
“[M]edicare for All would force every American off their existing coverage, put an end to the choice and control Americans currently have over their plans and treatments, fundamentally change Medicare as we know it, and subject patients to longer wait times and a lower quality of care. Not only that, it would move health care decisions away from doctors and patients, and put our care in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.”
“We can all agree that more should be done to improve access to quality, affordable care—but this costly, disruptive one-size-fits-all proposal is the wrong path forward. Instead, let’s protect and improve upon what is working in American health care, and come together to fix what isn’t.”