December, 2012 letter submitted by an advocate for U.S. healthcare reform.
Reprinted here with permission.
Dear Fellow Citizens,
Congress should enact an intelligently-designed “Medicare E” (Medicare for Everyone) in place of costly and complicated “Obamacare” (“The Affordable Care Act”).
Picture an intelligent, streamlined “Medicare E” that protects ALL U.S. citizens through general tax revenues – just as our military budget attempts to 100% protect all U.S. citizens:
1. Every U.S. Citizen would be on “Medicare E”- rich, poor, old, young, healthy, chronically ill, able-bodied, disabled, military, veteran, civilian, – paid for by general tax revenues rather than by mandates, payroll deductions and out of pocket. This would replace the myriad of healthcare plans for government, union and private sector employees, veterans and home-based military personnell and their dependents, Medicare A-B-C-D, Medicaid, MEDIGAP, COBRA, etc. And it eliminates the costly confusion and multitude of billing systems of all the current coverages.
2. Large and small businesses would have the certainty of running their businesses without the need to involve themselves in the bureaucracy of providing health insurance for their employees. Remove health coverage from the workplace – employees are too mobile- the lowest paid employees in a company pay the same premiums as the highest paid – and COBRA is too expensive for many of us. Give everyone a “Medicare E” card at birth.
3. There is no place in a comprehensive, well-designed “Medicare E” for health insurance companies- no place for “Supplemental Medicare Coverage”, MediGap, employer health plans, etc. U.S. healthcare would be owned by Main Street – not by Wall Street or K Street. Insurance companies offer no value in an all-encompassing “Medicare E” system – they become the equivalent of cannonball financiers in our modern military (or issuers of “liar loan” mortgages). Their employees need to find other careers – as did employees on typewriter assembly lines. Remove high costs by eliminating insurance premiums (1/3rd of healthcare costs) – not by raising the age to qualify for Medicare.
4. Physicians For a National Health Program (PNHP) must take the lead in crafting incentivized incomes (payments) for medical personnel that will eliminate the current and looming shortages of physicians. Premiums that now sustain the costly health insurance companies with exorbitant CEO salary packages would be re-directed to medical personnel that offer value to “Medicare E”. (Purchase & watch the documentary “The Vanishing Oath”.)
5. “Medicare E” would reduce costs by having the power to negotiate drug purchases the way the VA now does. And treatment delays seen in the Canadian system must also be avoided by intelligent management of the currently -existing componenets to our U.S. health care system – “Obamacare” is proposing 18 new taxes and many new COSTLY & UNNECESSARY revisions to our current delivery system.
6. Elimination of Medicaid eliminates the costly bureaucracy at the state level so our 50 states save the time and costs of administering Medicaid to poor people. Respect would replace the stigma of Medicaid as a program for the disabled and the poor (of all ages). The worthy elements of Medicaid (i.e. means-tested long-term care) are preserved. The unworthy elements of Medicaid (low compensation to doctors and hospitals, the bureaucracy of determining eligibility, etc.) are eliminated.
7. “Medicare E” would be paid for 100% from general revenues as is our military budget – eliminating all other ways in which employers, governments and citizens currently cobble together payments for health coverage. The proposed “Individual Mandate” would also be eliminated – eliminating the associated bureaucracy of collection and enforcement. No one says “the military budget is going to be bankrupt by 2022”. The Towers get attacked, our bodies get attacked. Our country is defended, our bodies should be defended. Some people don’t want to pay for war, some people don’t want to pay for contraception and abortion – same difference! The tax dollars you pay don’t have your name written on them – they go into the pot to keep our country strong – and healthy is a big part of strong! The CBO needs to provide a cost analysis of a sleek “Medicare E” (an improved version of Congressman John Conyer’s HR676).
8. “Medicare E” would permit centralized oversight leading to more ability to control fraud, waste and abuse – resulting in huge cost savings with this entitlement program.
9. With “Medicare E”, injured veterans and 9/11 first responders would not have to have their medical issues “classified” and “processed” (and delayed). They could be quickly treated (as could all U.S. Citizens) by going to any doctor or hospital for any health problem with their “Medicare E” card rather than to a distant VA Hospital (at $$ savings to U.S. taxpayers).
10. With “Medicare E”, taxpayers would be relieved of additional state taxes to cover the health plans of state and local government employees – plans that often continue for life. Many of these “public servants” are able to retire at age 55, unlike those of us in the private sector who are taxed to provide the golden benefit packages of our “public servants”. Taxpayers would also be relieved of the cost and inequity of paying for similar packages for Federal Employees – including members of Congress who currently receive lifetime health coverage for themselves and their families even if serving only a few terms (while blocking universal coverage)!
11. These many cost savings would easily allow “Medicare E” to cover everything for everyone – physical health including dental, vision and hearing as well as mental health – with the exception of cosmetic surgery. Yes, there would be lost insurance sales and lost advertising revenue as “supplemental” coverage (“MediGap”) and the “open enrollment period” disappear. Current complexities and scaring people (Humana “MAY save you money”) is just another way for the Wall Street types and their cronies to suck money out of Main Street.
12. Could Obamacare (crafted by Liz Fowler and Senator Max Baucus) be any more confusing or costly?? What if you’re under 26 but your parents don’t have health coverage? Millions of dollars in ACA grants are going to each state to “study” and implement health exchanges. In New Jersey, a costly study was produced to tell the stories of those without health coverage – and another study is supposed to show what various citizens consider to be an affordable cost of healthcare for their family. “Obamacare” is using tax dollars to pay for stupid ACA studies!
Let us use our collective power to advance the single-payer plans of “Medicare E”, “Healthcare-NOW.org” and PNHP (Physicians For A National Health Program). Please contact President Obama with the above win / win compromise to reduce entitlement spending.
Lynn in New Jersey