“Medicare-For-All”: Saving Cost and Minimizing Bureaucratic Red Tape

Over the summer, we are highlighting aspects of our Shared Prosperity Agenda. Our members are sharing their experiences and expertise on Education, Healthcare, Housing, Jobs and Wages, and Progressive Revenue.

This week we are focusing on Healthcare -- Within five years, we want quality, affordable health care covering all medically necessary treatment, a single-payer system similar to Medicare for all. A good first step would be a public option, enabling any resident to pay into an enhanced MassHealth system.

This is part one of our three-part series on healthcare written by Robin Akerman, Ken Farbstein, Ari Fertig, Shaina Kasper and Enku Kebede-Francis. Thank you!

Before the implementation of the 2006 health reform, Massachusetts had a fragmented health insurance scheme: many residents lacked coverage and those who were uninsured extensively overused hospital emergency rooms.  Shortly after the law was enforced, the first in the nation, 98% of the residents were covered.  Nobody can say it was an easy process and twice in 2008 and 2010, the original law was amended and currently Massachusetts is in the process of complying with the Federal program, The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was modeled after the Massachusetts program.

Healthcare_Policy_Thumb_edited-1.jpgThe next changes that Massachusetts will need to make must be on controlling costs and changing the payment system. Although we have a universal healthcare system in Massachusetts, the current multiple payer system adds difficulties for patients, doctors, nurses and hospitals who have to navigate through layers of bureaucracy and state of Massachusetts pays substantial amounts of money and devote considerable amounts of time.  But, fortunately, we have an alternative mode of payment that has worked very well that we could apply.  Almost everyone would agree that Medicare is one of the most successful Federal programs and most importantly, according to Center for Medicare and Medicaid, its management only costs 1% of its budget.   

In 1965, President Johnson and Congress created Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history.

We argue that if Medicare has worked for those who are age 65 and older, it should also work for those younger than 65. Ask anyone who is receiving Medicare, or their families.  You will find out that even those who do not support a government run healthcare program would agree that this government run program, Medicare, has worked for millions efficiently and has kept its management costs to the absolute minimum.

If Massachusetts amends its health insurance payment system by replacing the multiple payment system with a single payer system, a Medicare-for-all, the patients and their doctors will only deal with a single payer and the money the state saves could be used for other programs including research, education, environment and transportation infrastructure, for example. This will not only benefits Massachusetts but the nation as well.  If the Massachusetts health insurance scheme could be managed like Medicare and spends only 1-2 percent of it’s current budget, this group of bloggers endorse an amendment that promotes Medicare-for-all. 

Progressive Massachusetts has proudly endorsed Dr. Don Berwick for Governor who believes patients, families, workers, businesses, health care providers, and the public treasury would benefit a great deal if the state’s health care costs are lower and, at the same time, the citizens of Massachusetts enjoy better health outcomes.

See what the gubernatorial candidates have to say about these and other healthcare proposals here, Lieutenant Governor Candidates here, Treasurer here, and Attorney General here.

See our full statement of Health Care Values here.

Sign our petition here.

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