Support Medicare for All plan

By William Reed, M.D.
Lake Geneva (Wis.) Regional News, Letters, May 26, 2016

I am writing in response to the letter of Joanne Williams on May 5, and the difficult health care situation in the United States.

Indeed, prices for pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and hospital care are much higher than in other wealthy industrialized countries. Yet in the U.S. we have the Veterans Administration system that buys all medicines at a 40 percent discount. Why is that?

The reality is that in our country private, investor-owned insurance plans have proven over 25 years that they have no power to control costs or prices. Yet, they are one of the most profitable sectors of the economy. Other counters spend one-half to one-third less on total national health care, cover all citizens and have better outcomes that we do.

They do this by having a single national health program that directs the spending of public money. For-profit financing by insurance companies add only expenses. Yet, these countries maintain the private, competing provision of health care by doctors and hospitals.

Paul Ryan has an idea of ending traditional Medicare with an unproven “voucher” system and having patients put “more skin in the game” and supporting commercial Medicare HMOs, the Advantage Plans. These are all failed ideas that have been tried.

Medicare works. It has a 3 percent administrative cost, and can be improved to eliminate deductibles and copayments. I believe that our political representatives are obligated to answer: why would Enhanced Medicare for All, as in House Bill HR 676, not work for the U.S.?

Dr. William Reed resides in Walworth.