ACA is weak law; we need Medicare for all

By Frederick W. “Rick” Ford
The Palm Beach Post, June 29, 2012

Although the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law is not a remedy to our health care crisis, as it leaves at least 26 million uninsured, will not make health care affordable to Americans with insurance, because of high co-pays and gaps in coverage that leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness, and will not control costs.

Why is this so? Because the ACA perpetuates a dominant role for the private insurance industry. Each year, that industry siphons off hundreds of billions of health care dollars for overhead, profit and the paperwork it demands from doctors and hospitals; it denies care in order to increase insurers’ bottom line; and it obstructs any serious effort to control costs.

In contrast, a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all system would achieve all three goals – truly universal, comprehensive coverage; health security for our patients and their families; and cost control. It would do so by replacing private insurers with a single, not-for-profit agency like Medicare that pays all medical bills, streamlines administration, and reins in costs for medications and other supplies through its bargaining clout.

The administrative cost savings alone would be $400 billion annually, enough to provide quality care to everyone with no overall increase in U.S. health spending.

The most rapid way to achieve universal coverage would be to improve upon the existing Medicare program by excluding private insurance participation (through so-called Medicare Advantage plans) and expand it to cover people of all ages. There is legislation before Congress, notably H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which would do precisely that.

There is only one equitable, financially responsible and humane cure for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all.

Frederick W. “Rick” Ford is president of Floridians for Health Care. He resides in Palm Beach Gardens.

PNHP note: This letter was also printed in the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.