Medicare for all means equality for all

By William D. Clark, M.D.
Portland (Maine) Press Herald, Letters, Aug. 4, 2015

Medicare became law on July 30, 1965. Medicare runs economically. It’s equitable – we pay when working, not when sick!

Only months later, in March 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. clairvoyantly said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”

Fast forward 45 years, to 2010. Politicians promised that the Affordable Care Act would make health care universally accessible. But instead it delivered a tangle of rules and procedures. And health care spending is about $3 trillion, more than 17 percent of gross domestic product.

Profits are healthy in our capitalist system. But millions of people are worried sick and unhealthy – roughly one-third of that $3 trillion goes to profits and so-called overhead, not to health care.

Insurers and drug and device makers spend hundreds of millions on lobbying, blocking attempts to provide universal coverage that other developed nations enjoy. This waste of premium and tax dollars is unconscionable.

Unfortunately, current political discussion is dominated by hyperbolic summary statements, simplistic at best and often outright lies, instead of facts. Preservation of a profit-driven system overshadows provision of health care.

As Trudy Lieberman wrote in Harper’s magazine in June, the only solution is to attack the profit seekers’ stranglehold on the machinery of health care – “a bold move that has so far frightened away almost all contenders.”

So, what would Medicare for All provide? Simply stated: Everybody in, nobody out! Comprehensive coverage from your first breath to your last! And an economical and equitable system, based on 50 years’ experience.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently affirmed that providing Medicare for everyone would address inequality and injustice.

A united citizenry can become a contender. Join the Maine Nurses Association, the Southern Maine Workers Center, Maine AllCare, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and many others seeking Medicare for everyone.

Dr. William D. Clark resides in Woolwich.