On Sunday, March 29, the Star-Ledger ran "book-end" op-eds on healthcare reform. They quibble about the cost and benefits of Obama's plan. Neither addresses a superior plan that is already before Congress but is being kept "off the table" in most discussions of healthcare reform.
President Obama insists that some consumers like their current health insurance. Most are probably unaware that illness and medical debt are the single biggest cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States, or that three out of four of those households had health insurance when illness or injury first struck. Nor will they be able to keep the plan they like if they lose their jobs.
The obvious solution is to expand and improve Medicare to cover everything for everyone: 100% of all medically necessary care, including prescription drugs and long-term care. By cutting out the private insurance companies, we could cover everyone at a reasonable cost: 90% of American families would end up paying less than they are paying now.
The United States National Health Care Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676) would be funded by a payroll tax: 4.5 percent from employers and 3.3 percent from employees. There=2 0would also be a one third of one percent tax on stock transactions and a small increase in income tax for the top income earners. So most unemployed and retired people won't have to pay a cent.
If Medicare for All is enacted, most Americans will never see another medical bill or pay for another prescription drug. They won't have to sell their home to buy long-term care for a disabled family member. All we need to do is get the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 676, and the Senate to pass the companion bill S. 703, and the President to sign it.
"But it will never pass," people say, "because Congress is in the pockets of the health insurance industry." Ye s we can get this legislation passed. Pollsters report that most people want a "single-payer" plan like H.R. 676. Strong majorities of20doctors and nurses support it. Most employers, from big manufacturers to small businesses to your children's school or your church, would save money on health insurance, while providing better health coverage to their employees. Medicare for All will help make American businesses competitive again. If patients, doctors and nurses, and most employers want this bill to pass, who can stand in its way?