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'Improved Medicare for all' is the solution

By Mary Sturdevant, F.N.P., et al.
Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Letters, Oct. 29, 2015

We are a group of providers who worked at the Kitchen Clinic for many years. Four of us were directors at various times. This is the free clinic in Springfield that closed recently. It was started in 1985 by Sister Lorraine Biebel. We are proud of the care we provided there and sad that the clinic closed.

We know the limitations of charity health care firsthand. Because of this, we have supported improved Medicare for all (single payer health care financing) for many years. It provides economy, simplicity and security. U.S. House of Representatives bill H.R. 676 and Senate Bill 1782 are based on this. What would it look like?

Traditional Medicare has overhead of less than 3 percent compared to an average of 14 percent for all private insurance companies, some as high as 20-25 percent.

Doctors and hospitals would not be owned by the government.

Americans would be free to choose and stay with any doctor or hospital, avoiding the danger and expense of bouncing between health systems. Providers would have to compete based on quality of care. People would not lose their insurance if they became sick or lost their job. Employers could tend to their businesses instead of health care expenses and administration.

General tax revenues would pay for the continued private delivery of an essential service. As taxpayers, we would support a system that uses the money paid in for patient care, not administrative waste and profiteering.

Americans pay more out of pocket than citizens of other countries with universal financing. We spend more per patient than those other countries, but our outcomes are worse. We have higher infant and maternal mortality, overall mortality and fewer years lived in a healthy state. Individual out-of-pocket costs do not help control overall health care costs. If they did, Americans would have the cheapest health care in the world.

Despite the Affordable Care Act reforms, many people will remain without health insurance.

An 2013 analysis based on HR 676 by Dr. Gerald Friedman, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, shows that a nonprofit single-payer system would save an estimated $592 billion in its first year of implementation and 95 percent of people would pay less than they do now, as would most businesses.

Device makers, insurance and pharmaceutical companies are reaping huge profits while Americans are burdened with high and rising premiums, deductibles, co-pays and drug costs. Our current system is based primarily on profits, not patient care.

Meanwhile, Americans die because we allocate health care by ability to pay, not by need. We can change this by making improved “Medicare for All” the law of the land. Charity care is like being given crumbs. Let’s give everyone a true place at the health care table.

In addition to Mary Sturdevant, F.N.P., this letter was signed by Mark Bower, M.D., Gary Wright, M.D., Judy Dasovich, M.D., and Janie Vestal, M.D.

http://www.news-leader.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/10/29/letter-...

PNHP note: This letter was originally published under the title "Improved Medicare helps all."