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The Medicare for All Debate Is Long Overdue

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/06/medicare-all-debate-long-overdue

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“The naysayers say that Medicare for All isn’t popular, that voters love their insurance companies.”

The “naysayers” are paid corporate propagandists and those sheep who love the sound of their bleep and love to pass it on.

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Not sure why everyone seems to think that, if Warren is elected, she will immediately institute Medicare-For-All. That’s not the way the political process works.

The PERI research group at UMass/Amherst has provided a two page proposal for funding the M4A program: https://www.peri.umass.edu/images/Medicare_For_All_release_Nov18.pdf — It’s a 2 page read, simple. About $1 trillion is needed in new revenue, and 60% is paid by employers, who will pay about 92% of what they currently pay, and by a sale tax of 3.75% on necessities, and a wealth tax. Plans should be described, the debate should emphasize how affordable they are, and that most will receive a large boost to their disposable after-tax income. Robert Pollin expects that a family with $50,000 income will receive about $7,000 in new income. These ideas should be reported. https://btlonline.org/comprehensive-study-on-medicare-for-all-refutes-criticism-by-centrist-democrats-gop/ – Pollins interview.

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Three takeaways, first, I agree with the headline, we do need this debate.
Second, I don’t take individual candidate plans that seriously, its Congress that decides what legislation actually passes and any plan from any President always is greatly modified. I think all the Democrats running want to expand medical coverage in one way or another and that’s about all they can do even if elected.
As for “medicare” many don’t know it requires monthly part B payments of about $130, there are many co-pays, and it doesn’t cover many things like dental and hearing aids. However, privately run medicare advantage plans, subsidized by the Federal government, do add additional benefits and preventative services, and they are generally very popular with seniors who are nervous about any changes to the health care system. Any politician calling for eliminating medicare advantage plans will face a very hard sell with many seniors. And the same for telling workers covered by god employer plans that those will be eliminated. Both Warren and Sanders are running into problems with such voters, it will take much better explanation to win them over.
I also think that telling people they can visit any doctor, use any hospital with no payments is very misleading, mathematically that is impossible. I think there de need to be some co-pays to deter frivolous use and an emphasis on preventative care to reduce the overall costs.
This topic is very dangerous to all politicians as it is very emotional for many voters. I’d recommend they mainly advocate broad goals to indicate priorities.

Well, no one could possibly institute it immediately. But at least she has a plan. Sanders also has a plan. No one else even has a plan. And the way the political process works most often is that in presidential election years, people tend to vote straight ticket. Which means if a Dem wins the presidency, there’s a good chance they’ll have a majority in both houses of congress, at least for 2 years. Obama wasted his majority. Biden would certainly waste his. Somehow I don’t think either Sanders or Warren would.

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Medicare Advantage plans are a scam on the elderly. They are confusing and not generally portable. Lots of folks come to Alaska and find that their Advantage plan is not accepted because they are “out of network” and they have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed later. They generally blame the providers and don’t understand that it is their crappy Advantage plan that is the problem. Medicare Advantage is a Republican creation and should be abolished.