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Medicare for all

By William R. Davidson, M.D.
The Lebanon (Penn.) Daily News, April 7, 2017

The American people were right to reject the Republican Party’s recent attempt (Trumpcare) to “repeal and replace” Obmacare because a 300-billion-dollar tax break for the richest 2% while increasing the number of uninsured would have been a giant step backward. Still, Obamacare leaves a lot to be desired and this is the time to move forward, not backward, and bring all citizens under the umbrella of an improved Medicare-for-All.

Fifty years ago Medicare was enacted over the protests of Southern bigots, most physicians (AMA), popular Conservatives (Ronald Reagan), and, of course, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.    Unfortunately, those negative voices were strong enough that only the elderly and seriously disabled were included.  Thus, for the past half century we have been left with a system that yearly causes a half million medical bankruptcies, unaffordable premiums and deductibles, as well as thousands of preventable deaths amongst our non-elderly population.

Why Medicare has not been expanded to include everyone is largely explained by the lobbying efforts of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries which have literally bought most of our legislators (both Democrat and Republican). In addition, there has been a massive disinformation program that has perpetuated the myth that Medicare for All would lead to limitations in choice of doctors and hospitals, unsustainable costs, as well as an expansive, out of control bureaucracy.  These are lies which better describe our present system based on the private insurance paradigm.  Private insurers, not traditional Medicare, tell us which doctors we can and cannot see.  Our present healthcare system costs twice as much as Single Payer systems in Europe and Canada mainly because our dysfunctional bureaucracy is many times larger.

Having practiced Medicine for over 40 years, I have never met a person over 65 who has turned in his Medicare card because he (or she) refuses to be associated with a “corrupt”, “one size fits all”, choice limiting, “government run”, bureaucratic, Socialistic system that includes people “I don’t like”.  Over the years, Medicare has saved millions of lives.  Many more lives will be saved if Medicare is expanded to include all Americans.

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