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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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/).

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Grenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail