FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Fiscal Conservatives Should Love Medicare-for-All

by CAROL MILLER

Call me old fashioned, but a true conservative is someone who conserves, dislikes wasting money and is offended by endless corporate bailouts by hard-working taxpayers. A fiscal conservative like me. As a public health professional, I want to see health dollars used to keep people healthy through public health and wellness programs, as well as provide medical care when it’s needed.

We have a health care crisis in the United States. Nearly 50 million people do not have health insurance, and they are our family and neighbors.

There are 500,000 medical bankruptcies every year. Most of these half million families had health insurance; at least they thought they did because every month they paid for insurance. Millions of people have learned the hard way that for-profit sickness insurance does not prevent financial ruin during a health crisis.

One of the worst lies thrown around every time Congress debates health care is that the U.S. will end up with socialized medicine. Socialized medicine is when the government owns and operates health facilities as well as pays the salaries of the doctors, nurses and the rest of the healthcare work force.

Let me say as clearly as possible — President Obama and the Congress are not discussing, introducing or enacting socialized medicine.

Good old-fashioned U.S. socialized medicine

Today, the U.S. already has socialized medical systems serving more than 20 million people. The current U.S. socialized medicine systems are very popular. The largest in terms of numbers of people is the Military Health System. The largest in terms of numbers of facilities owned and operated is the Veterans Administration health system. Two additional smaller U.S. socialized medical systems are the Indian Health Service and the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Despite being socialized medicine, the VA is ranked the highest in a national survey of patient satisfaction by the University of Michigan. U.S. taxpayers own the 155 VA hospitals and 881 clinics; we employ 289,000 people working in the VA including 16,000 doctors and 42,000 nurses.

Even the bastion of capitalism, Fortune magazine, is impressed by VA health care, stating, “The seamless integration of science, information, and compassion is the dream of modern health care. Scenes like these are not fantasies, however, but daily realities at the Veterans Health Administration.” (Fortune, May 2006.)

Let me repeat, President Obama and the Congress are not discussing, introducing, or enacting socialized medicine. Unlike the socialized system military and veterans enjoy, most health care services are provided through a private delivery system. All reforms will build on the existing private delivery system.

2009 health reform debate

So now that we all agree that the President and Congress are not expanding socialized medicine in the U.S., what are they proposing? There are two basic options and neither creates a nationalized or socialized health care system.

Medicare for all: The first choice expands Medicare eligibility beyond its current limitation to elderly (over 65) and disabled individuals of any age. This is the most conservative, least-disruptive and cost-effective way to cover more people; it only takes a simple change to an existing, very popular program. Every time the Congressional Budget Office scores the cost of Medicare-for-all type programs, they pay for themselves through two key business principles, the power of bulk purchasing and administrative savings though the elimination of waste in the system.

Mandated insurance: The second choice forces taxpayers to buy for-profit insurance despite a wasteful administrative cost of $1 billion a day. Yes, a trillion dollars every two and a half years just for paperwork, not a penny of that for health care. As a fiscal conservative, I do not want to pay a secret corporate bailout so that greedy CEOs make bonuses based on how good they are at rationing care to sick people.

In this expansion of the current failed system, the U.S. spends more than twice as much per person than any other country and the excess cost does not result in better outcomes. The U.S. is about 37th in the world for life expectancy, infant mortality, and other indicators of health status.

We have to walk away from corporate rationing to create a seamless system with the highest quality services for the best price. The easiest way to hold down costs is to have the largest purchasing group possible to get bulk prices — this is the single-risk pool.

Especially in this economic downturn it is essential to help people get access to health care. Being creative now gives us the chance to create a brand-new system, an All-American plan.

False conservatives will parrot the corporate line and continue to bail out the failed sickness insurance system. True fiscal conservatives who want to eliminate waste, hold down costs and improve outcomes will support Senate Bill 703 and House Bill 676. All the other bills transfer tax dollars first into needless paperwork and corporate profits and then dole out whatever is left for medical bills.

The choice is clear. We keep our doctors and hospitals in the current private delivery system but let one public insurance plan handle the paperwork and pay the bills.

CAROL MILLER is a New Mexico public and rural health expert. She has public service in Washington, D.C., in both Republican and Democratic administrations, including the Clinton White House. In 1994 she was the health reform policy adviser for the National Rural Health Association and the New Mexico Secretary of Health. Miller, a former Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service, has used both the uniformed services and veterans health care systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Miller is an Independent unable to vote in the New Mexico primary. She has been working on electoral reform and creating a more democratic electoral system since the 1990’s. Miller recommends that people newly awakened to the unfairness of the electoral system support Ballot Access News (http://ballot-access.org/), Coalition for Free and Open Elections (http://www.cofoe.org/), and Fair Vote (http://www.fairvote.org/).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail