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NPR Mara Liasson Mandatory Medicare for All and the Ramped Up Attack on Single Payer

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/12/npr-mara-liasson-mandatory-medicare-all-and-ramped-attack-single-payer

Republicans have succeeded in scaring the voters with thoughts they will lose what they think is good coverage by their employer.
Like other conflated stories, like equating 9-11 with Iraq and others, the repugs have people thinking they like their insurance, when in fact they may like their healthcare, separate animals.
It has not gotten into people’s heads that you can have your healthcare administered from anyone, or anywhere you choose. Out of state care may be dealt with like Canada’s provinces exchange.
Veterans already can get treated overseas via VA healthcare, and I assume that would be the case with M4ALL. After all, services overseas are cheaper anyway.

Does Liasson use her slashing skills to expose Perpetual War, the domination of the Military Industrial Complex, the tyranny of lobbyists, the lunacy of continuing AUMF, the craven weakness of our politicians who surrendered long ago to big pharma, Wall Street, arms manufacturers, and the AIPAC/Israel axis? Or does she just reserve her criticism for policies that actually benefit Americans?

What say you, Mara?

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How is Mayor Pete going to balance the budget?

Will he cut the military?
Will he cut Social Security?
Or, will he cut Medicare?

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B and C

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I am a recipient of Mandatory Social Security. Though what I receive after 45 years of paying in is a poverty-level benefit, it is enough to (barely) keep me off the streets. After a recent open-heart surgery, Mandatory Medicare (Not-For-All), even under its current heavily privatized construction, paid for nearly every penny of the surgery and related costs.

So Ms. Liarson and National Putrid Radio, I flip you the Mandatory Bird for your lying venality and liberal hypocrisy as you try to knee-cap the best presidential candidate with the best (though highly imperfect) program since the New Deal.

BERNIE2020!! NO SAFE STATES! NO LOTE! NO FEAR!!!

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She already said.

He will cut SS & Medicare,. expand the military, and take the country further into debt.

Mara Liasson is the main reason I no longer support National Propaganda Radio. This morning she used “Bernie Sanders” and “misogynist socialist” in the same sentence. So much for their so-called objective journalism. She is coming to truly Northern California in Redding at Shasta College on 3/16 - anyone care to protest?!?

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Mara Liasson has been a very conservative voice for a long time, disguised as a “public” reporter. She is just one of the specific reasons I also stopped giving, a long time ago. I include the list of corporate sponsors and almost no government (public) funds from which I have to figure the public fund drives are really just a way to disguise their real corporate funding backbone and, in essence, ownership. As a result, I have to wonder how much they really need any contributions (except as a fig leaf, as I indicated). Except for the fig leaf, the donors probably don’t really want those citizen contributions. If the money is all from them they can do anything they want, no rules.

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I dropped a line to NPR the other day to complain about Liasson’s reluctance to let the words “Elizabeth Warren” pass her lips when reporting on results. I don’t see an alternative to NPR in my local, but they are getting more and more corporate “lite”

They need individual contributions so they can say, almost as an afterthought: “…brought to you by Exxon Mobile, Monsanto and listeners/viewers LIKE YOU.”

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Here’s the part I don’t understand.
I have never heard anyone say, “I LOVE my insurance Co., I couldn’t do without them”?
That goes for any insurance, health, car, home, etc. I do know that everyone I speak to
thinks they pay too much, get nothing in return, and live in fear of higher premiums, or
getting dropped.

So, who are these multitudes who are afraid of M4A because they will not be covered by
“Private Insurance”? Do they not understand they will be covered, but for less $, can’t be
dropped, don’t need to be employed/pay COBRA, etc.?

I understand if they’re being told you lose your doctor, but hell, my employer has changed plans
3x in the last 5 years, and guess what… My doctors were never covered under the different plans!

Maybe I’m just too pragmatic, or don’t talk to the right people, but I’m not understanding how this
is playing as such a fear tactic.

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Clearly some people here are old enough to remember the beginnings of NPR. From Wikipedia:

“National Public Radio replaced the National Educational Radio Network on February 26, 1970, following Congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. This act was signed into law by 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson, and established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which also created the for television in addition to NPR. A CPB organizing committee under John Witherspoon first created a board of directors chaired by Bernard Mayes.”

The idea that a federally supported non-profit Commonwealth could be allowed to compete head to head with private for-profit media for the public good infuriated the self-styled Lords of the Universe (i.e., the capitalists who own the lion’s share of the country). Some mismanagement in the early 80s got them into trouble, but what Wikipedia fails to mention is that by that time NC senator Jesse Helms, known as “Senator No,” was putting the squeeze on them. In the early 90s Lynne Cheney persuaded Congress to further gut their budget and censor their reporting. At that point NPR joined the Mainstream Media and abandoned what by then had become the pretense of being a “public” good.

From the Sanders website:
Financing Medicare for All

“How are you going to pay for it?”

That is the question that bookends nearly every media conversation that takes place on Medicare for All. The straightforward answer is, we already are.

Unlike other government outlays – for example, a ship for the Navy – Medicare for All does not represent any new spending at all. Instead, it represents a rebalance of how our current dollars are spent.

If Congress were to authorize the Navy to procure an aircraft carrier, and appropriate the necessary funding, the federal government would spend approximately $13 billion building that ship. If Congress does not authorize and appropriate the funding, then the ship will not get built. People will not individually purchase an aircraft carrier, nor will any private corporation.

Health care is fundamentally different. If the status quo stays in place, between 2022 and 2031 the federal government will spend $59.65 trillion. According to estimates from the conservative Mercatus Center, under the Senate’s Medicare for All legislation, those expenditures will drop by approximately $2 trillion.

Another study released by PERI at the University of Massachusetts found that “Medicare for All could reduce total health care spending in the U.S. by nearly 10 percent,” resulting in more than $5 trillion in savings.

Today, the traditional Medicare program only spends 2 percent of its costs on administration. That’s less than one-sixth the administrative costs of private health insurance companies.

Studies have found that the U.S. could save up $500 billion annually in billing and administrative costs by moving to Medicare for All. That money could be used to greatly expand primary care in this country and make certain that all Americans get the health care they needed when they need it – saving billions on expensive emergency room care and hospital visits.

Moreover, the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs – because Congress has done nothing to regulate the price of medicine. If the U.S. joined the rest of the industrialized world and negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies to lower prices, our country could save up to $113 billion per year.

A Medicare for All system not only benefits individuals and families, it would benefit the business community. Small- and medium-sized businesses would be free to focus on their core business goals instead of wasting precious energy and resources navigating an incredibly complex system to provide health insurance to their employees.

Under the current system, while thousands of Americans die each year because they lack access to the health care they desperately need, the top five health insurance companies in 2018 made $21 billion in profits, led by the UnitedHealth Group, which made $11.99 billion.

As tens of thousands of American families face bankruptcy and financial ruin because of the outrageously high cost of health care, the top 65 healthcare CEOs made $1.7 billion in compensation in 2017 including $83.2 million for the CEO of UnitedHealth Group; $58.7 million for the CEO of Aetna; and $43.9 million for the CEO of Cigna.

There is broad consensus – from conservative to progressive economists – that the Senate Medicare for All bill, as written, would result in substantial savings to the American people.

The question is what entity is fundamentally responsible for financing our nation’s health?

Medicare for All represents a belief that our current system relies far too heavily on individuals’ ability to finance necessary and lifesaving medical care through premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Under a Medicare for All system, government would be the chief financer of health care.

The largest share of national health expenditures already comes from the government, amounting to $26 trillion out of the $47 trillion, or 55 percent, of what our country will spend on health care from 2018 to 2027.

Household, business, and philanthropic spending makes up the rest, with $20.7 trillion in projected spending from 2018 to 2027. It should be noted that for expensive medical illnesses and procedures, private philanthropy has become a major source of funding, and not just from the wealthy and foundations.

GoFundMe has reported that one in three of the site’s campaigns are to pay for medical bills. The site hosts more than 250,000 of these campaigns, raising more than $650 million each year. In November 2018, Spectrum health rejected a candidate for a heart transplant because it did not believe she could afford the regimen of immunosuppressive drugs required after surgery. The rejection letter recommended “a fundraising effort of $10,000.”

This gets to the heart of why the rebalancing of the chart above is necessary. Fundamentally, our dysfunctional system not only puts health care out of financial reach for millions of Americans who cannot afford necessary drugs such as insulin, it is regressive in its individual financial impact.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care – and health insurance, specifically – account for a much higher share of spending for those toward the bottom of the income distribution than those at the top. Lower income groups also spend a greater portion of their income on costs not covered by insurance. Medicare for All solves the fundamental moral question of making sure those at the bottom are no longer locked out of the health care system due to cost. Our financing system must fundamentally correct this flaw in our current system.

As the wealthiest country in the world, we have a variety of options available to support a Medicare for All, single-payer health care system that guarantees high quality, affordable health care as a right, not a privilege, to every man, woman, and child in this country.

Those options include, but are not limited to:

• Creating a 4 percent income-based premium paid by employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four;
• Imposing a 7.5 percent income-based premium paid by employers, exempting the first $2 million in payroll to protect small businesses;
• Eliminating health tax expenditures;
• Making the federal income tax more progressive, including a marginal tax rate of up to 70 percent on those making above $10 million, taxing earned and unearned income at the same rates, and limiting tax deductions for filers in the top tax bracket;
• Making the estate tax more progressive, including a 77 percent top rate on an inheritance above $1 billion;
• Establishing a tax on extreme wealth;
• Closing the “Gingrich-Edwards Loophole”;
• Imposing a fee on large financial institutions; and
• Repealing corporate accounting gimmicks.

These are just some of the policies that could provide revenue to finance Medicare for All. Under every single one of these options the average American family will save thousands of dollars a year because it will no longer be writing large checks to private health insurance companies.

A study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare-for-all system in New York would save a family with an income of $185,000 or less about $3,000 a year, on average. Citizens for Tax Justice found that middle class families would see their after-tax income go up by about $3,240 a year under Medicare for All. Another study found that middle class families would spend about 14 percent less of their income on health care than they do today. Even the projections from the Mercatus Center suggest that the average American could save about $6,000 under Medicare for all over a 10-year period.

Today, the United States has the most expensive, inefficient, and bureaucratic health care system in the world. Despite the fact that we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care for all – and have 34 million Americans who are uninsured and even more who are underinsured – we now spend more than twice as much per capita on health care as the average developed country.

According to a recent study, 45 percent of Americans are worried a major illness could leave them bankrupt, 1 out of 4 Americans skipped needed medical care because they could not afford it, and 77 percent are concerned rising health costs will cause significant and lasting damage to our economy.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we spend more than $10,700 per capita on health care. Meanwhile, Canada spends just $4,826, France spends $4,902, Germany spends $5,728, and the United Kingdom spends $4,264 per person on health care.

Further, despite the fact that health care spending consumes almost 18 percent of our GDP, our health care outcomes are worse than all of these other countries. For example, our life expectancy is 2.5 years lower than Germany’s and our mortality rate for children under the age of 18 is at the top of the list compared to other developed countries.

In other words, every major industrialized nation on earth has made health care a right, provided universal coverage to all, and achieved far better health outcomes in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality rates – all while spending far less per capita than we do. Please do not tell us that the United States of America, the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, cannot do the same.

There needs to be vigorous debate as to the best way to finance our Medicare for All legislation. Unlike the Republican leadership in Congress which held no hearings on their disastrous bill which would have thrown 32 million people off of health insurance, we will continue to get the best ideas from economists, doctors, nurses, and ordinary Americans to guarantee health care as a fundamental right.

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Yes, thank you. This is the most comprehensive brief summary of US health care financing I have seen lately and I’ve seen a lot, and one hundred percent consistent with everything I have seen over a period of more than 30 years. As far as I can tell you are not Margaret Flowers in mufti, or an operative of the American College of Physicians and Surgeons (which recently embraced a form of Improved Medicare for All) or Physicians for a National Health Care Program, which has been advocating for some form of single-payer for years.

Your citing of the Political Economy Research Institute speaks volumes. When even economists are advocating a non-market solution to a problem you know it’s a really serious problem. You might also have noted that Mercatus is the diametric opposite of PERI, a champion of the market economy to which collective solutions of any kind are anathema.

All you people: Pay careful attention to everything popesays says, and pass it along.