Posts filed under ‘Single Payer’

Looking to Medicare as a Model for Health Care Coverage? Improve Medicare First.

In a September 2017 editorial, the New York Times reviewed proposals to improve health care coverage as efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are stalled – at least for now. As noted in the editorial, “[t]he Republican campaign to repeal Obamacare, for all its waste of time and energy, has at least gotten people to talk seriously about proposals to improve the health care system.”

When looking to expand access to health care coverage, it’s natural to look to Medicare, the country’s well-tested, flagship health insurance program. Medicare is not only more cost-effective than private insurance, it’s also beloved by beneficiaries, their families, and the general public.  Thus, proposals presented by some would aggregate our current, multi-pronged coverage system into a single-payer model, which some call “Medicare-for-All.” Other proposals would allow people under age 65 to buy-into Medicare.

Considering several of these proposals, a recent article in the New Republic asked: “[i]f the plan is to transition to something like Medicare-for-All, shouldn’t the strategy begin with making Medicare great?”

Yes! We agree, before moving more people into Medicare, it needs to be improved and simplified. With all of its virtues, Medicare also has flaws. There are still significant gaps in coverage – vision, hearing and routine dental, not to mention long-term care.  Traditional Medicare does not include a cap on out-of-pocket expenses or its own prescription drug benefit.  Medicare Advantage adds costs to the system and significantly limits enrollees’ provider choices. Assistance for low-income individuals is limited.  And, all too often, payment and quality measures lead many providers to prematurely terminate, or avoid providing medically necessary care entirely, for people with longer-term, chronic and debilitating conditions.

Traditional Medicare must include the same benefits and the same limits on cost-sharing as private Medicare Advantage. People who choose traditional Medicare ought to have the same cap on out-of-pocket costs and the same “one-stop-shopping” opportunities as people in private Medicare Advantage. Like their counter-parts in Medicare Advantage, people who choose traditional Medicare should be able to obtain prescription drug coverage without having to purchase a separate Part D plan. If supplemental, Medigap insurance continues to be necessary to help with cost-sharing, it should be available and affordable for all people with Medicare, including people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, which it is not the case in many states.

As health policy discussions (hopefully) turn towards expanding, rather than contracting, health coverage, the Center for Medicare Advocacy will work to improve Medicare for all those it currently serves, and may serve in the future. This is a critical first step before adopting Medicare as a basis for health coverage expansion.

September 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Medicare Beneficiary Costs Will Rise if Affordable Care Act is Repealed (And Private Medicare plans will be paid more)

With all the talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare), many people miss the impact repeal would have on Medicare, older and disabled adults, and their families. ACA added preventive benefits to Medicare, decreased Part D cost-sharing for prescription drugs, and increased the long-term solvency of Medicare by about 11 years.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:

” Full repeal would increase spending primarily by restoring higher payments to health care providers and Medicare Advantage plans. The increase in Medicare spending would likely lead to higher Medicare premiums, deductibles, and cost sharing for beneficiaries, and accelerate the insolvency of the Medicare Part A trust fund. Policymakers will confront decisions about the Medicare provisions in the ACA in their efforts to repeal and replace the law.”

http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/what-are-the-implications-of-repealing-the-affordable-care-act-for-medicare-spending-and-beneficiaries/

Policy-makers and people who rely on Medicare should think twice before supporting legislation that will give windfalls to private insurance companies, while reducing coverage and increasing costs for older and disabled people.

December 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Telling It Like It Is: The Ryan Plan Would Kill Medicare

The title of Paul Krugman’s piece in today’s NY Times says it all. The Medicare Killers tells the truth about the Trump/Ryan plan to turn back the clock on Medicare and give it away to the private  insurance industry. A good deal for insurance companies, but a very bad deal for the 60 million older and disabled people who access health care through Medicare. Importantly, as Krugman writes, this is not necessary.  It’s just the latest ploy to privatize Medicare.  Call it what it is.

Help the Center for Medicare Advocacy speak out against false claims and misinformation that could rob older people and people with disabilities of necessary health care – and diminish Medicare for generations to come. Spread the word. Tell the truth about Medicare.

November 18, 2016 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Believe Us? Listen to the George W. Bush CMS Director!

And we quote: Mark McClellan, CMS Administrator in the G. W. Bush Administration:
“If the exchanges’ tech problems are resolved by November, no one will even remember what happened this week,” McClellan said, comparing the Affordable Care Act rollout to when the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit took effect.
“Millions of seniors in different programs were enrolled into new [private] drug plans, and the computer system fumbled the handoff for tens of thousands of people who really urgently needed their prescriptions,” he said. “By comparison, the frustration of not being able to shop online in the first days of the Obamacare exchanges is small potatoes.”

[From Politico 10/4/2013]

October 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Medicare and Jobs: Not Mutually Exclusive!

The more people have health insurance, including  Medicare, the more they stay healthy and are able to work.  If health insurance is provided by Medicare or health care reform or any avenue outside the tired employer-based system, it reduces costs for employers and encourages hiring.  Ask any employer.

Continuing to tie health insurance to employment only continues a system that COSTS jobs. It creates a disincentive for employers to hire.  It creates an incentive for the new employment reality:  Freelance, contract work, part-time, whatever you want to call the newly underemployed who do not have benefits and for whom employers do not pay into Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment, or Workers Comp.  This is a big problem for everyone involved, including individual workers, their families, AND the solvency of important programs that Americans value and that have lifted generations out of poverty and provided fair access to health care. 

Pay attention, people!  We not only can have Medicare and jobs – we will have more jobs if we  increase access to Medicare and health care.  Don’t raid Medicare to pay for jobs.  That will only reduce access to both.

September 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Walk Away From Health Care Reform!

The Center for Medicare Advocacy supports efforts to pass the Senate’s health reform bill.  We reiterate what President Obama asked of Congress in his State of the Union address, “don’t walk away from [health] reform!”  Paul Krugman agreed in his NewYork Times editorial.

Now is not the time to retreat,  or to insist that the perfect defeat the good.  Too many people have no health insurance, too many are denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, too many face bankruptcy because of uncovered medical bills for us to give up.

What would Ted Kennedy do?  He would agree!  He would push forward to pass the Senate health reform bill.  As he writes in his memoir about his efforts to pass reform – in 1977:

“My staff and I worked hard to craft a plan that would be capable of having broad-based support. Specifically, we negotiated long and hard in 1977 to persuade .. the AFL-CIO and … the UAW, to compromise on their strong commitment to a single-payer system, where health care providers would be paid  from a single national fund like Medicare  – and agree instead to support a plan built on our existing system of private insurance provided that coverage was mandatory and universal.  I had personally supported single payer in the past and understood the benefits of it, but I also knew that it would be politically impossible to pass.”  True Compass, p. 359 (2009)

Listen to Teddy!  Pass the Senate health care reform bill as soon as possible – if that’s what can be done, if that’s what’s feasible – do it!

To speak to your members of Congress, call (800)828-0498.

January 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm 2 comments

Thank you! 60 Senators Bring Us One Step Closer to Health Care Reform

True, the bill that passed the Senate is far from perfect. But, can you imagine what the opposition would be saying if the bill met our standards for true health care reform?  As it is, the brave Senators who led this battle have endangered their political careers. This includes Senator Chris Dodd (CT), senior Senator from the Center for Medicare Advocacy’s  home state. 

So we thank Senator Dodd and everyone who worked to get this good bill passed.  Here are some highlight’s from Families USA: Manager’s amendment: Providing more competition and affordable choices for Americans ; Manager’s amendment: Improving quality and controlling costs ; Manager’s amendment: Enhancing affordable choices for small businesses .

Get some rest, all!   Another big push to provide health care equity awaits us after we ring in 2010.

December 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

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