Robert Moffit’s op-ed (‘Medicare for All’? A grim prognosis), Free Press (Nov. 23), merits a Ludicrous Distortion Award for spreading fear and confusion
Here are six Ludicrous Distortions (LDs):
LD1. Medicare for All eliminates Medicare.
LD2. Medicare for All eliminates health care coverage for 58 million seniors and disabled Americans as well as 73 million others because of the disappearance of Medicare, Medicare Advantage, supplemental insurance programs, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance programs.
LD3. Medicare for All is “total government control of American health care” just like VA health care and Britain’s National Health Service.
LD4. VA Health care has “a shocking record of poor quality of care for America’s veterans.”
LD5. Britain’s National Health Service is a catalog of failures.
LD6. Medicare for All is too expensive for the U.S.
Setting the record straight:
Medicare has worked successfully for 50 years, has overwhelming public support, and it’s a single payer program. Medicare saves money by lowering administrative costs, eliminating profit margins and controlling reimbursements more carefully.
Medicare for All, (1) as it says, follows the Medicare model but expands it to cover everyone, not just persons 65 or older and the disabled. It also includes additional benefits: full coverage, no co-pays or deductibles, prescription drug coverage, and coverage for vision, hearing and dental care.
Like Medicare, Medicare for All allows persons to seek health care services from any qualified doctors, hospitals, clinics or agencies.
Since Medicare for All covers everyone and has those additional benefits, there is, of course, no need for Medicare Advantage, supplemental insurance programs, the Children’s Health Insurance programs, and Medicaid’s medical services. Medicaid’s provision for long term care will remain. Moffit’s presented vision of millions and millions of people losing their health care is a mirage.
Like Medicare, Medicare for All will not include government ownership of hospitals and clinics or government hiring of health care providers like doctors and nurses who staff these institutions. So Moffit’s claim about total government control is foolish, whether applied to Medicare or Medicare for All. And hence, all his criticizing references to VA health care and Britain’s National Health Service, which include both government ownership and hiring, are irrelevant to Medicare and Medicare for All.
Moffit’s attack on VA health care is a disservice to the multitude of veterans who get quality health care through the VA. The VA’s shameful waiting list scandals are not the whole story, especially when it comes to the quality of care itself. The Rand Corporation reviewed 69 studies of VA health care and concluded that the quality of care in VA health care system compares well with non-VA facilities. (2)
Moffit’s dire description of the disastrous state of Britain’s National Health Service does not square with the Brits’ assessment. A 70th anniversary article, “Is the NHS the world’s best health care system?”, in The Guardian newspaper, begins, “Nothing inspires national pride quite like the National Health Service.” The title refers to a U.S. based Commonwealth Fund Report that rated their health care system the best among 11 well-off nations. (3)
Regarding costs, what Moffit doesn’t tell you is that the scary $32 trillion increase in health care costs is coming even without Medicare for All. Health-care costs in 2017 were $3.5 trillion in the U.S. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects (without Medicare for All) an average 5.5 percent annual increase in health-care costs through 2026. (4)
And there’s no reason to think that percentage will decline in further years. In 2031, the annual cost will be more than $7 trillion.
I have reasons for thinking that Medicare for All will not require that much of an increase. For example, other relatively well-off nations with universal health care have better results while spending a lot less money than we do. I don’t see why the U.S. can’t come close to matching them.
At any rate, a single payer Medicare for All offers more for the money with universal coverage, full coverage, prescription drug coverage, no premiums for supplementary insurance, no co-pays or deductibles, and coverage for vision, hearing, and dental care.
As for taxes, the U.S. has never had a confiscatory tax system that deprives the nation of wealthy and well-off people.
Ron Yezzi, emeritus professor of philosophy at Minnesota State University, taught courses in social and political philosophy. He lives in Mankato. Additional information by Yezzi on this article can be found at www.mankatofreepress.com.
1. The Senate Medicare for All Bill: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1804/text
Another good source: The British Quality Care Commission