Expanding Medicare for all would be wise

By Johnathon Ross, M.D.
The Blade (Toledo, Ohio), Letters, March 8, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing another case attacking Obamacare (“Bad case against Obamacare,” editorial, March 4). This will not be the last.

The complexity of the Affordable Care Act makes it easy to attack. The 19,000 members of Physicians for a National Health Program, of which I am past president, agree it would be tragic, possibly fatal, for those with Obamacare subsidies to lose coverage.

But these attacks confirm that more durable and effective reform is needed. We would prescribe a constitutional remedy that is known to work — improved and expanded Medicare for all.

That would have many advantages over private insurance marketplaces. Medicare’s financing is fair — all contribute and all benefit, versus a marketplace of private insurance that will ration care by ability to pay. Medicare’s benefits are inclusive and generous, versus private insurance, which seems to be exclusionary, greedy, mean-spirited, and arbitrary.

Medicare for all would allow complete choice of providers, with access to services we prefer, versus private insurance with restricted provider networks and other barriers to care.

Medicare for all would focus on long-term improvements in the health of the nation with public accountability based on professional values, versus private insurance, which must focus on short-term profits, trade secrets, and commercial — and sometimes near-criminal — values. Multiple studies confirm that the simplicity of Medicare for all would save $400 billion a year — enough to cover all the uninsured and improve benefits for the rest of us.

We need to move on quickly from Obamacare. Improved and expanded Medicare for all will save money and save lives. It is the right thing to do.

Dr. Johnathon Ross resides in Ottawa Hills, Ohio.