U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
This week, two persons on either end of the political spectrum called for a radical change in the nation’s health-care system. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a New Hampshire Independent and self-described democratic socialist running for president, long has advocated this position, so his message on Facebook was no surprise. For Merrill Matthews, however, the support for this about-face overhaul in how we pay for health care in America was stunning. Until one read his reasons, that is.
Insurance companies be gone
The proposed revamping of health care in question here is a switch to the single-payer system. The idea is anything but new, of course; even Barack Obama, before he ran for president, favored it, backing away when he realized it was politically unfeasible. Under single payer, Americans would pay a set amount for their health care in taxes, and the government would pay the costs of their care. The 1,300 health insurance companies, many of whose executives make millions of dollars and have superhigh administrative costs totaling $400 billion annually, would be eliminated as the middle man, reducing costs considerably. No longer would the profit-drive motive to deny care exist. The rich still could choose to pay for private health insurance.
Attorney Frederick Ford
Health care that is government-run, or a government-private collaboration, works well in the European nations and Japan, costing much less than what U.S. health care costs, in many cases half – and all of which have far better statistics for life expectancy and infant mortality. But Americans have long been brain-washed into thinking that government-operated health care, which has been labeled socialized medicine, is a great evil. People are unaware that it works far better than our insurance system. Pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the medical establishment contribute money to politicians to drum it into their constituents’ minds that so-called socialized medicine is a bad system. Actually, it isn’t socialized unless the government decides what hospitals and doctors patients use, which is the case in England and Cuba, and with the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department.
Attorney Frederick Ford of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, long has campaigned for the single-payer system. Momentum for a conversion to that system appears to be building.
Sanders sounds off for single payer
“We need to join the rest of the industrialized world,” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on June 28. “We are the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right, and yet we end up spending much more than they do. So I do believe that we have to move toward a Medicare for all, single-payer system.” Sanders added that he had “certainly voted for” the ACA. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but that certainly should be the goal.”
On Tuesday, the Palm Beach Post ran an essay by Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation. The IPI was formed in the 1990s by then-U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, a staunch conservative. The think tank calls itself bipartisan, but the conservative Capital Research Center ranked it among the most conservative groups in the country, scoring it an eight on a one-to-eight scale.
Conservative condemns Obamacare
Matthews argued for expanding Medicare to all instead of limiting it to seniors. While he favored no involvement at all in health care, letting the free market control it, except for a government safety net for the poor, he acknowledged that wasn’t a viable option. He decried the Affordable Care Act, saying premiums are going through the roof; “millions” no longer could see their preferred doctor; millions chose high-deductible policies to afford them; insurance co-ops were financially failing; and other shortcomings had arisen.
Considering the institute’s bias, however, these assertions should be regarded skeptically. The respected Kaiser Family Foundation said in March “the gap between favorable and unfavorable opinions of the law has narrowed to the closest margin in over two years, with 43 percent saying they have an unfavorable view and 41 percent saying they have a favorable one,” the Huffington Post reported. The average of six polls showed that as of July 3, 44.2 percent favored the ACA and 50.8 percent opposed it.
Medicare for all
Matthews said “Medicare is fraught with problems,” but conceded that it is “very popular” and “much less complex than Obamacare.” The senior program should be expanded to cover all as “the better option,” he said.
Matthews is fairly low-profile. But Sanders, as a longtime U.S. senator and now a presidential candidate drawing big crowds to his speeches calling for a more equitable distribution of wealth, gets a lot of attention for his message on health-care reform. We can only hope that it will catch on, and people will finally realize they’ve harmed themselves by swallowing the conventional line that government-run health care is deleterious. Because it’s effect on the pocketbook is salutary.
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