Create Medicare for all

By Harvey Fernbach, M.D.
The Washington Post, Letters, Jan. 21, 2013

Harold Meyerson [“America flunks its checkup,” op-ed, Jan. 16], citing the recent report of the Institute of Medicine, provides an excellent commentary on the failings of our health-care system — failings that will, in too many cases, persist under the Affordable Care Act. While Mr. Meyerson’s diagnosis of the problem hits a home run, however, his prescription for a remedy unfortunately stops at third base.

Until we establish an “improved Medicare for all” — a single-payer system that ends the flagrant waste, inefficiency and injustice associated with the private insurance industry — we won’t get to home plate. As the institute’s report makes plain, such systems are more equitable, economical and user-friendly for patients, practitioners and businesses than are our current arrangements, even as they deliver better medical outcomes.

In 2009, a majority of Americans told pollsters that they wanted the simplicity, portability, increased choice of doctors and peace of mind that an improved Medicare for all would bring. Why should we settle for less?

Harvey Fernbach, M.D., M.P.H., is co-director of the District of Columbia chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. He resides in College Park, Md.