Health Care

A Primer on the Economic Benefits of Medicare-For-All

The features of a single-payer or a Medicare-for-all (M4A) health care system would provide economic benefits for individuals, families, doctors, hospitals and the nation. For most households, M4A saves money and provides more disposable income. Gerald Friedman, PhD and Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, has studied M4A for many years. He estimates that a M4A system financed by progressive taxes would cover more and cost less for 95 percent of U.S. households than our current health care system. Further, he estimates that a family of four with an income of $50,000 would save more than $5,800.

Opponents have made the claim that M4A is too expensive. They say that over 10 years we would need to pay $32 trillion in extra taxes, our current expenditure on health care multiplied by 10. This assessment implies that we need to increase taxes and still spend just as much on insurance premiums and deductibles. That claim is disingenuous.

First, insurance is not used in a M4A system, so there are no premiums. Friedman’s data showed that the family of four that had an income of $50,000 would save $6,273 in insurance premiums and deductibles that are no longer collected. The family would pay an extra $466 in taxes for a net gain in disposable income of $5,807. Again, 95 percent of households would save money.

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Stop Doing Nothing

When my children were young and playing together, I would hear a strange sound or I would not hear anything for quite some time; and I would say, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Stop doing nothing.” It worked. Either I did not hear any strange sounds for a while, or I heard enough noise to make me comfortable. In any event, I never had to take my children to the pediatrician or hospital after using that phrase.

To Senate Republicans working on health care who are either completely silent or making the occasional strange noise, I want to ask, “What are you doing?”

I envision them saying, “Nothing.” That would be a lie because what Republicans are doing is much worse than nothing.

If they were doing nothing, they would keep our current health care system, colloquially known as Obamacare, with all its imperfections. In spite of Obamacare’s imperfections, it has made our health care system better. It has enabled people without health insurance to get coverage, and as a consequence, some of these people were able to get life-saving care.

If the Senate proposes anything similar to House’s bill, it would make the situation worse than before Obamacare. As of March 2017 about 28 million people lacked health insurance. The most recent version of the House’s American Health Care Act or Trumpcare would cause another 23 million people to become uninsured. This would bring the total number of uninsured to 51 million. About 46 million people were uninsured in 2009.

It is time for the Senate Republicans to stop doing nothing. Otherwise they are going to cause grave damage to the citizens of this country.

Congressman Admits Trumpcare Is Corporate Welfare

Some Republicans are claiming that the Trumpcare bill passed by the House of Representatives is about lowering premiums and giving states flexibility. However, the congressman given credit for reviving Trumpcare, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), admitted that the purpose of the bill is to protect the profits of insurance companies by shifting the costs of pre-existing conditions onto the taxpayers.

On the May 5th MSNBC show “For the Record with Greta,” MacArthur had this to say [emphasis mine]:

MacArthur: The reason premiums have skyrocketed over the last seven years is because pre-existing conditions are being borne by all the policyholders and millions, 23 million haven’t bought insurance so you have this, you have this less than optimal group paying for all these pre-existing conditions.

Greta: So who will be paying for all the pre-existing conditions?

MacArthur: Well we moved it from the policyholder to the much broader shoulders of the taxpayer, and that will allow everyone’s premiums to drop. That’s what I believe will happen.

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High-Risk Pools

Back when one of my daughters was 8 or 9, she said something that was an alternative fact. I asked, “Where did you hear that?” My daughter responded with a comment that would cement her argument, at least in her mind, “I read it on the internet.”

Needless to say, that did not go over well with my wife or me. First I explained to my daughter why her original statement was not true and then went into a short talk about how you need to know who wrote an article and what their biases might be. My daughter took at least one part to heart. She never used “I read in on the internet” as an authoritative argument in front of her parents again.

Now, as I listen to all the alternative facts by President Trump and Republicans about how Trumpcare is better than the Obamacare, and how high-risk pools can be used to protect the chronically ill while lowering costs for everybody else, I am reminded of my daughter’s statement, “I read it on the internet.” There is one difference. There is a decent chance that you can read something that is true on the internet. When Trump and Republicans talk about how they will “improve” health care, you can be sure that they are lying.

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Investing in America

When my three children were toddlers and in the early grades of elementary school, my wife and I would read to them before bedtime. My middle child was three years younger than her older sister and one year older than my youngest, so this was no small task. My wife would generally read to the oldest, or the oldest would read to her, depending on the difficulty of the story. I would read to the two youngest, and then say good night to my eldest daughter.

Eventually, my youngest daughters started reading to me.

I was investing in my children’s future. The nighttime reading ritual is considered one of the most important actions you can do help your children learn to read.

My disappointment with Republican policies keeps escalating as per Pres. Trump’s skinny budget; they fail to invest in America’s future. At first I thought it was that they keep ignoring facts and science. Climate change is happening, and they continue to deny it. If you want to decrease abortions, then start teaching comprehensive sex education. Some Republicans still insist on abstinence-only sex education even though it has been proven that comprehensive sex education reduces unplanned teen-pregnancy rates.

When Republicans refuse to invest in America, it is as if they are failing to read to their kids at night.

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