Category: Single Payer 676
Some big news on Sen. Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill
I have some important news to share with you:
Today — along with 15 co-sponsors — I am officially introducing our Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care legislation that will guarantee health care as a right for every single man, woman and child in the United States of America.
The last time I introduced this bill, it lacked a single co-sponsor.
Today, we have 15.
I want you to know the names of each and every Senator who is standing with us today, then sign my online card thanking them for joining this fight.
Here is the list:
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
But it gets better.
Over the past two months, more than 500,000 people across the country have joined them as citizen co-sponsors of our bill. And in the House of Representatives, for the first time ever, a majority of the Democratic members have signed onto John Conyers’s Medicare-for-all legislation.
There is no doubt about it, momentum is on our side.
It was not long ago that the idea of Medicare for all was dismissed and ridiculed by the corporate media and political establishment of this country. Today, a strong majority of Americans understand that it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide health care for all.
But we still have a long way to go.
Because the truth is, the insurance companies and drug companies in this country are extraordinarily powerful and they are not going down without a fight. They have obscene amounts of wealth and have used that money to protect a dysfunctional system that allows them to make billions in profits while leaving far too many Americans behind.
But in my view, the people of this country have had enough of the greed and recklessness of these industries.
We understand that it is a moral outrage that the United States is the only nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right to all of its people.
We believe it is a national emergency that 28 million of our sisters and brothers lack health care coverage and that many more are underinsured with high deductibles and copayments.
We are tired of going to the pharmacy to get medicine we need and the price triples for no other reason than because the drug companies now have the right to charge as much as they like. Unbelievably, one out of five adults under the age of 65 in this country who gets a prescription from a doctor cannot afford to get it filled.
The American people are sick and tired of a health care system that spends twice as much per capita as countries around the world but has worse outcomes. All while the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry reward their executives with outrageous compensation packages.
All of us get sick.
All of us need medicine.
All of us have accidents.
All of us need good quality health care.
In my view, the function of a rational health care system in this country should be to provide quality care for everyone in a cost effective way, not to make health industry CEOs richer or drive up stock prices on Wall Street.
Even with growing support in Congress, we are still taking on much of the political and financial establishment in this fight. But when we are united, when we stand together, we are more powerful than they could ever imagine.
Sisters and Brothers: In this pivotal moment in American history, let us lead our country forward to guarantee health care as a right and not a privilege. This is a struggle whose time has come. This is a struggle not just about health care but about the heart and soul of our country, about what we stand for as a people.
Please remember that when we stand together and do not let allow demagogues to divide us up by race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.
That is the political revolution.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders Completely Dismantles GOP Argument Against Single Payer In 60 Seconds

Bernie Sanders Completely Dismantles GOP Argument Against Single Payer In 60 Seconds

“We have a Medicare system right now. It is a good system. … Let’s expand that program to every man, woman, and child. It’s not a scary proposition.”


Bernie Sanders Completely Dismantles GOP Argument Against Single Payer In 60 Seconds

Republicans have long sought to scare Americans into thinking that the U.S. health care system must put profits above people.

Their efforts to prevent the passage of the Affordable Care Act and their more recent attempts to undermine and repeal the law, which has given coverage to millions, provide ample evidence of this.

As Democrats now look to build upon Obamacare with a new proposal to create a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, it’s likely the GOP effort to scare people into opposing it will again kick into high gear.

On Wednesday’s edition of All In with Chris Hayes, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – fresh off of proposing his own Medicare-for-all plan – dismantled the Republican arguments against the new proposal in the span of a minute.

Sanders said:

It is screwed up when thousands of people die each year because they can’t get to the doctor when they need to get to the doctor. It is screwed up when we are spending $10,000 per person on health care – almost 18 percent of the GDP – and the projection is if we don’t make real changes, we’re going to spend $49 trillion over the next ten years, 20 percent of our GDP, which will have very negative impacts on our economy. So you’ve got a screwed up system now. The point to be made – and I know that there will be a lot of disinformation getting out there – but the point to be made is that this is is not a government takeover of your health care system. We have a Medicare system right now. It is a good system. … Let’s expand that program to every man, woman, and child. It’s not a scary proposition. 

The Vermont senator is correct on two fronts.

Not only does the current health care system have too many flaws that put too many Americans at risk of going bankrupt or not getting the care they need, but the program that Sanders and other Democrats are now putting forward is not a radical or sinister idea.

It puts people ahead of profits, and in the long term would be far more cost effective than the system we currently have. It’s simply expanding an already-existing and popular program that millions of Americans already enjoy: Medicare.

The Affordable Care Act was a substantial and historic step in the right direction, but it’s time to fight Republican efforts and go the rest of the way in guaranteeing health care to every American.

Sanders unveils single-payer bill to cheers from supporters
Sanders Unveils ‘Medicare For All’ Bill

Sanders Unveils ‘Medicare For All’ Bill
Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing legislation that would let Americans get health coverage simply by showing a new government-issued card. And they’d no longer owe out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles. (Sept. 13)
AP

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportBernie Sanders’s ‘Medicare for all’ bill needs to passClinton ‘dumbfounded’ by Comey letter days before electionMORE (I-Vt.) unveiled his single-payer health-care plan on Wednesday to cheers and a brief “Medicare for all” chant from supporters.

Nine Senate Democrats joined Sanders for the unveiling, with two possible presidential candidates, Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBernie Sanders flexes power on single-payerSchumer noncommittal on Sanders’s ‘Medicare for all’ bill Where Dems stand on Sanders’s single-payer billMORE (N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSchumer noncommittal on Sanders’s ‘Medicare for all’ bill Where Dems stand on Sanders’s single-payer billThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportMORE (N.Y.), getting into the camera shot.

“The American people want to know what we’re going to do to fix a dysfunctional health-care system, which costs us twice as much” per person as any other country, Sanders said at the opening of the press conference, casting aside speculation by the media about what the bill might mean politically for Democrats.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fired at the Democratic proposal, calling it a “horrible” idea that would put government further in charge of Americans’ health care.She also belittled Sanders, saying that if his ideas were as popular as he thought, he would have won last year’s Democratic primary and been elected president.

Sanders has seen support for his proposal grow. In 2013, a similar bill garnered no co-sponsors. Sanders already has 16 fellow senators on his bill this time, though centrists and party leaders have shied away from direct endorsements.

The bill would expand Medicare into a national health insurance program, extending comprehensive health insurance to every U.S. resident. Many services would have no co-payments under the Sanders approach.

The program would be rolled out over a four-year period, with the eligibility age dropping every year until every U.S. resident is covered.

Those aged 18 and under would automatically be eligible in the first year.

The program, which would essentially separate health insurance from employment, would cover a full range of benefits, including inpatient and outpatient hospital care, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment and maternity care.

Sanders also released options to finance his single-player plan, which caught heat during his presidential bid for its high cost.

This includes a 7.5 percent income-based premium to be paid by employers, a 4 percent income-based premium to be paid by households, changes to the estate tax and a new tax on the top 0.1 percent of Americans based on income.

Already, about 30 national liberal organizations and unions have endorsed the bill, including MoveOn.org, Food and Water Watch and National Nurses United.

The trade group for insurance companies immediately announced its opposition.

The plan was announced the same day Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senators make last-ditch bid to repeal ObamaCareOvernight Health Care: Dem leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer bill | Last-ditch ObamaCare repeal effort struggles for votes | Dems press Trump on ObamaCare outreach fundsMcConnell on last ditch ObamaCare repeal: Find the votesMORE (R-La.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators make last-ditch bid to repeal ObamaCareOvernight Health Care: Dem leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer bill | Last-ditch ObamaCare repeal effort struggles for votes | Dems press Trump on ObamaCare outreach fundsGutiérrez defends attacks on Kelly, calls top Trump aide ‘mean’MORE (R-S.C.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerGOP senators make last-ditch bid to repeal ObamaCareGOP braces for Bannon primary attacksOvernight Health Care: Dem leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer bill | Last-ditch ObamaCare repeal effort struggles for votes | Dems press Trump on ObamaCare outreach fundsMORE (R-Nev.) unveiled their plan to repeal ObamaCare in a last-ditch effort to gut former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill’s 12:30 ReportObama to host global summit in ChicagoClinton ‘dumbfounded’ by Comey letter days before electionMORE’s signature legislation. Many view it as unlikely to pass, and the GOP only has until the end of the month to repeal ObamaCare and avoid a Democratic filibuster.

The Sanders plan has no real chance of becoming law with a Republican-controlled Congress and White House but is likely to be a touchstone in the years to come.

As Sanders and Democrats Unveil Medicare For All, Trump Makes Final Push To Kill Healthcare

As Sanders and Democrats Unveil Medicare For All, Trump Makes Final Push To Kill Healthcare

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 17 Democratic co-sponsors introduced Medicare For All, Donald Trump and Republicans are making one final push to take health care coverage away from millions of Americans.

As Sanders and Democrats Unveil Medicare For All, Trump Makes Final Push To Kill Healthcare

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 17 Democratic co-sponsors introduced Medicare For All, Donald Trump and Republicans are making one final push to take health care coverage away from millions of Americans.

In a statement introducing Medicare For All, Sanders said, “Today, we begin the long and difficult struggle to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all its people. At a time when millions of Americans do not have access to affordable health care, the Republicans, funded by the Koch brothers, are trying to take away health care from up to 32 million more. We have a better idea: guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care program.”

Meanwhile, Trump and Senate Republicans are trying to rush through a last ditch health care bill that would gut Obamacare and cost millions their health insurance by turning it into a block grant program to the states. Cassidy-Graham would cause millions of people to lose their insurance because it would slash funding for the ACA to the states by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Politico reported that Trump is pushing to take health care away from people by the end of September, “President Donald Trump and some Senate Republicans are refusing to give up on Obamacare repeal, even after this summer’s spectacular failure and with less than a month before a key deadline.”

The reconciliation instructions that allow Republicans to avoid a Democratic filibuster on health care expire at the end of September. If Republicans don’t get a bill passed by then, they will not have enough votes to break a Democratic filibuster.

The contrasting visions for health care in this country have never been more clear. Democrats believe that health care is a right and that the country must move toward universal coverage. Republicans see health care as something that should only be available based on the ability to pay.

The Democrats and Bernie Sanders have the right idea. Health care is a right, and Republicans who believe otherwise are going to get swept away by a building wave of progress.

Republicans Are Already Attacking Senators Who Support Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All Bill

Republicans Are Already Attacking Senators Who Support Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All Bill

Republicans are already launching attacks on the Democratic Senators who are supporting Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All bill.


Republicans Are Already Attacking Senators Who Support Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All Bill

Republicans are already launching attacks on the Democratic Senators who are supporting Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All bill.

According to Vox, 11 Democratic Senators are co-sponsoring the Medicare For All bill that Sen. Sanders will unveil on Wednesday.

Here is the list of Democratic supporters:

Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Three of the 11 names on this list (Booker, Warren, and Harris) have something in common. They are all rumored to be interested in running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sen. Baldwin is up for reelection in 2018, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement previewing how they are going to attack Democrats who support single payer:
Baldwin went out of her way to endorse this plan, which is bad for Wisconsin, 24 hours before it’s set to be released.

Despite representing a state President Trump won, Tammy Baldwin continues to side with radical liberals and support a single-payer health care system that would decimate Wisconsin families and businesses. Baldwin’s support for a socialist health care system would force folks in Wisconsin to pay exorbitant costs for an unworkable health care solution. The Urban Institute released a study last year showing that Sanders’ extreme health care plan would cost $32 trillion over a ten-year period.

The Republican argument is why it is going to be so difficult for Democrats to pass and enact a single payer health care bill in one swoop. Republicans will automatically label the plan socialism then point to the cost, and scare people about losing their current insurance.

There are numerous logical arguments in favor of a single payer system, but there is a reason why it took until Trump and the GOP tried to repeal the ACA for it to become popular. The scare tactics work. Just as it made no sense to repeal Obamacare and damage one sixth of the economy in one pass, it also makes little sense to implement a single payer plan in one bill.

The Affordable Care Act was the first step toward universal coverage. The next step that Democrats gain if they save the ACA will be an expanded Medicare buy in.

The fact that Republicans are already attacking a Senator who supports Medicare For All shows what a tough sell the plan is going to be to the rest of the country.

Potential 2020 Democratic Nominees Are Lining Up Behind New Single-Payer Health Care Bill

Potential 2020 Democratic Nominees Are Lining Up Behind New Single-Payer Health Care Bill

The move by top Democrats sets up a stark contrast between themselves and Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 election.

Potential 2020 Democratic Nominees Are Lining Up Behind New Single-Payer Health Care Bill

Recognizing that the politics of health care are rapidly changing in the United States, a growing list of potential 2020 Democratic nominees are lining up in support of a new single-payer health care plan.

The bill, set to be officially proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, is quickly winning the support of key Democrats – mostly notably those considering challenging Donald Trump in the next presidential election.

According to a new report from The Hill, citing Mic, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest possible 2020 candidate to throw her support behind the measure. She is reportedly expected to announce her support of the plan soon.

The report also highlighted more key Democratic figures supporting the proposal: “Gillibrand joins other possible 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls in supporting the bill, including Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).”

“Health care should be a right, it should never be a privilege. We should have Medicare for all in this country,” the New York senator said, according to CNN.

The Democratic push for a health care system that covers all Americans comes as Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress are moving in the opposite direction, trying but so far failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A slew of CBO estimates this year found that GOP plans would result in more than 20 million Americans losing their health coverage.

Trump’s efforts have energized health care activists to push for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system to build on the successes of Obamacare and expand coverage even further.

Public opinion is on the Democrats’ side, too, with a summer Pew poll showing that a majority of the country – 60 percent – believe the federal government should guarantee coverage to all Americans.

The move by a growing number of Democrats to embrace single-payer sets up a stark contrast between themselves and Donald Trump.

Do the American people want a president who works tirelessly to take health insurance away from millions of Americans as Donald Trump has, or do they want leaders who believe that health care in the United States is a right for all, not a privilege for the few?

The American people increasingly believe the latter.

Dr. Andy Coates: Single payer will enhance our lives across the board
“Imagine what it would mean for the union movement. It’s very hard to organize unions when the thought of a strike means they’ll discontinue your health insurance, and that means that your wife won’t have access, or for a working woman to keep her job because her husband ended up getting multiple sclerosis and she is afraid to leave, the “job lock” phenomenon.”  Andy Coates, MD
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The following is a lightly edited, unofficial transcript of the second half of an interview that Dr. Andrew D. Coates gave to Ed “Flash” Ferenc, host of the labor-oriented, Cleveland-based America’s Work Force Radio, WERE AM 1490, on March 30, 2016. Dr. Coates is immediate past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

In this segment of the interview, Dr. Coates talks about how a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-All system would benefit everyone who lives in the United States. In the first half of the interview (not transcribed here), Dr. Coates describes how he came to support single payer, how a majority of physicians now support it, and how the Affordable Care Act, despite the gains it has achieved, has failed to resolve the health care crisis in the U.S. and has actually strengthened the hand of the for-profit sectors of health care, whose interests run counter to the nation’s health.

The audio of the entire program is available at http://awfradio.com/todays-show-3-30-16/. The first segment of the interview with Dr. Coates runs from the 17:20-minute mark to 27:30; the second segment, transcribed below, runs from the 30-minute mark to 54:38.

HOST ED ‘FLASH’ FERENC: [We’re speaking with] Dr. Andy Coates, Physicians for a National Health Program. He’s a professor of medicine at Albany Medical College. We’re here to talk about taking Medicare as you know it and expanding it to everybody in America. Now this is not a new system. Other countries have used this system that you’re talking about, that you’re supporting, and it’s working, right?

Dr. Andy CoatesANDREW COATES, M.D.: Indeed. Every other industrialized nation has some version of this system. We could talk about a program where the government owns all of the health care infrastructure and pays the caregivers – nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and so on – directly; that would be like the National Health Service in Scotland now or as it used to be in England. There are some other examples.

And there are systems like the Canadian, Taiwanese, New Zealand systems, where the government pays the bills but where the health care infrastructure remains privately owned and operated, but operated on a not-for-profit basis.

Then there are some hybrid models that came from the 19th century, where there is some version of “private insurance,” but the private insurance is usually – as in Germany or other European nations – where the private insurance doesn’t correspond to UnitedHealthcare, Aetna or the kind of insurers in the United States. It’s an insurance fund that came through religious health organizations or through the labor movement, unions, or from communities. These are heavily regulated and controlled by the government to make sure that everybody’s in, and nobody’s out. So to call those systems private insurance systems is really a misnomer.

So the way of organizing the payment of care is, in my view, the beginning of the way to organize the delivery of care. If you don’t have control over the elements that go into the system, then how can you make the system serve the people in the right way? It seems to me that in a modern democracy, health care being so essential to our lives, that we absolutely would have to have control over how everyone in the country has access to the best possible care. That would be a key responsibility of a truly democratic government.

HOST: So the plan that’s on the table right now, this is a piece of legislation that has been introduced, it’s House Resolution 676, it’s called the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act: I know it’s been introduced and reintroduced a number of times. John Conyers of Michigan is supporting it. It’s my understanding that there are about 60, maybe 70 members of the Congress that are behind it. It’s just a fraction – you’d need a whole lot more support. But you’re in favor of that bill, which would take essentially Medicare, the way we have it right now, and expand it to everybody – every man, woman and child in the United States – is that right?

COATES: Yes. The Medicare for All Act, or H.R. 676, is a very, very useful document. Listeners should look it up. It’s short; if you print it out, it’s about 30 pages – easy to read. It’s a blueprint of a system that we know, — from the great deal of health policy evidence, — would absolutely work. It would cover all necessary care, there would be no copays or deductibles.

By all necessary care, I’m taking about all prescription drugs – here, I’ll just read it to you: primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long-term care, palliative care, mental health services, the whole scope of dental services, including periodontics, oral surgery, and endodontics, but excluding cosmetic dentistry, substance abuse treatments, chiropractic services, not including electrical stimulation, basic vision care and vision correction (other than laser vision correction), hearing services, including coverage of hearing aids, and podiatric care.

So all necessary care. Many of these things are not presently covered by Medicare, so it would expand and improve Medicare.

And this idea would exclude charges due at the point of service by patients. And that’s very important. It’s been very popular for the last decade or so to talk about “skin in the game” – you know, making patients go shopping for care when they’re sick, as the way to drive down prices. This has become a talking point, and this is very much the kind of neoliberal nuttiness that led to the Affordable Care Act, which has the taxpayers subsidizing the private insurance companies. You know, the idea is that if people don’t pay for their care when they’re sick, then they won’t understand how things work. But it turns out that if people are asked to pay charges for necessary care, they will avoid necessary care. There’s a wealth of evidence that will show that, in all kinds of different ways.

So this bill, H.R. 676, will actually work for the patients, and it will take us in the direction that we need to go. On the one hand there’s a big question about how it would be paid for and I’d be glad to talk with you about that. But the other thing that I’d really like to talk to your listeners about is to think about what it would mean for our daily lives if we had a system like this.

HOST: Let’s start with No. 1, how we’re going to pay for it. Because you know the conservatives are going to say, “Oh, we can’t afford it.”

COATES: Well, it’s not just the conservatives. That’s what Hillary Clinton’s advisers have been yelling to the public too. I think that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has come out attacking this idea that we should have a national health program. Look – all of the existing – if you look at the taxpayer money in the United States that is funding health care right now – all of this calculated on a per-person cost basis, a majority of the care is already funded by taxpayers in the U.S. And if you compare the U.S. level of spending with all the other nations on the planet, the United States spends more taxpayer money on health care per person than any other nation spends in total. It’s an astonishing thing. On a per-person basis, we have more taxpayer money spent on health care than any other nation spends in total on health care.

So there’s plenty of money in the U.S. system already, plenty of taxpayer money. If the existing sources in our employer-based system – you know, the employers pay huge amounts into the insurance companies to cover their employees – I’m taking about the big employers that have the big plans, if that money were put into the system, there would be plenty of resources to cover everyone.

But more, there would be enormous savings of hundreds of billions of dollars because there’s an enormous amount of waste in having a myriad, a great big pile of insurance companies fighting over every penny – with the hospitals and doctors’ offices having many people, whole departments to fight for the money. Hospitals might have hundreds of coders and billers trying to fight for the money. There’s this incredible administrative waste, waste that comes down to chasing money in the system.  That would be eliminated, and so there would be hundreds of billions of dollars in savings there.

In addition, in the Conyers bill, H.R. 676, would convert the system to a not-for-profit basis. There’s a spectacular amount of waste in profits and profit-seeking. It might be difficult to make a hefty profit off the care of a sick person, but the effort to do so brings with it a great deal of administration. So when it comes to pharmaceutical prices and medical equipment, all kinds of efficiencies could be found in the system if there were only one payer – in other words, the pharma companies would have to bargain with the people over prices. So the savings in the single-payer system would be spectacular from that point of view, and could liberate all of those resources so we could cover everyone.

There’s also a myth that some of the uninsured and sick patients would come flocking into the system and that would burden the system unduly. It turns out that, for example, when Medicare was built, and that was when the elderly in the United States had no one to pay for their care, it wasn’t the case that patients overwhelmed the system.

Furthermore, the single payer, because now we’d have a way for every patient’s care to be compensated, we could plan to expand our health system – I think of some of the rural counties here in upstate New York that don’t really have hospitals or adequate clinics. Those places could now afford to have them. And so the expansion of care could take place could take place in a planned way.

HOST: If you think back to when Medicare was debated back in the ’60s – Medicare was instituted in 1965 under Lyndon Baines Johnson – the same arguments that you’re hearing today, “Oh, you can’t do that!” In fact, Ronald Reagan, as I recall, was one of the big opponents of Medicare. “It’s socialistic, they do that in communist countries, we can’t do that!” Now, if you ask a senior today what they thought of Medicare, they’d say it’s the best thing since sliced bread. So this would basically take Medicare and expand it to everybody. I tell you, we have a long way to go. We need to educate people on this. Let me ask you one more question before you go. Do you feel, as a doctor, as a medical professional, that eventually this is going to happen – because of the high cost of health care under the Affordable Care Act, that this is the only way to solve the situation of getting access to health care in America? What are your thoughts on that?

COATES: If the goal is to cover absolutely everybody, to make sure that all necessary care is attainable, so we don’t have the undesirable situation where many people are completely left out, lost to medical follow-up, not able to access the clinic … if the goal is to do that, and also to keep the costs from spiraling completely out of control, and to help control costs overall, then, this is the only system that’s going to work.

The other thing I’ve learned though, in my travels around over the last 10 years or so, talking to many different audiences – way beyond some kind of FOX News feature where there’s a phony debate about whether some people “deserve to die” of illnesses that they never asked for – I think virtually everyone believes that if you’re sick, you should be able to get the best possible care. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or the countryside, if you’re wealthy or poor, in an African American community, Latino – it doesn’t matter.

HOST: Right.

COATES: Because that’s the way it should be. That’s what everyone understands, in some way. I hope what will happen, and I think what will happen, is what we’ll start to understand is how liberating it would be if we didn’t have to get health care through our employer, or through our spouse, or through our parents.

What it would mean to us if we didn’t have to worry about our children being unsafe, meaning without health care – getting out of high school and looking for work – at time of stress and insecurity for them, as they find their way? Imagine how liberating it would be for them not to have to worry about health care.

Imagine what it would mean for the union movement. It’s very hard to organize unions when the thought of a strike means they’ll discontinue your health insurance, and that means that your wife won’t have access, or for a working woman to keep her job because her husband ended up getting multiple sclerosis and she is afraid to leave, the “job lock” phenomenon.

Really, when it comes to health care, there are so many insecurities in our personal lives – for instance with a parent has to transition to nursing home because of a devastating stroke. This should not be a time when the whole family, I mean the expanded family, should have its finances decimated, with brothers and sisters, cousins all drawn into it because of one person’s health care crisis. This is really a terrible situation and undignified and all too common in the United States.

But if you look at it the other way, how liberating it would be, how proud people would be of this country, if that were not an issue. Proud to know that the system would be there, ready for us, and the system was designed around the patients. I really think that’s completely attainable. I don’t think it’s that radical. I think it’s a very modest reform, if you will. It wouldn’t threaten anything – it would actually enhance life across the board. It would not only work but be a great thing for public pride.

HOST: There you go. Well said. If you want more information on this, here’s the website: pnhp.org, Physicians for a National Health Program. Dr. Coates, we love having you on the show. Let’s keep this conversation going. So maybe one of these days Congress will move forward and do the right thing.

COATES: Also, there are hundreds of unions that have endorsed H.R. 676 and it continues to be a great campaign. Let’s build the word of mouth about it in the union movement. We’re hopeful that the unions can show us the way forward.

HOST: So you keep up the fight, OK?

COATES: Thanks.

http://awfradio.com/todays-show-3-30-16/

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9-21-16