‘Best solution is Medicare for all’

While it’s stating the obvious that Senate Republicans have fumbled away their opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare, it still amazes me how many people believe the answer is a single payer system, i.e. ‘Medicare/Medicaid for all.’

Latest example is in today’s Charlotte Observer where John H. Clark, a member of the Charlotte-based Health Care Justice North Carolina, says ‘Medicare for all’ is the best solution.

As many commenters point out, deep blue states like Vermont and California, have rejected single-payer systems. In California’s case, the state House killed the $400 billion plan. While cost was certainly the overriding factor, the plan did not “address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration,” according to Speaker Anthony Rendon.

Even the poster boy for single payer—Sen. Bernie Sanders—has trouble explaining why single payer is failing in “cobalt blue states,” as CNN’s Jake Tapper put it. But Clark, writing in the Observer, is undeterred. What jumped out at me is highlighted:

Too good to be true? Not at all.

Who will pay? Eliminating the for-profit private insurance system will save at least $600.8 billion per year in administrative costs plus outpatient prescription drug costs, according to Annals of Internal Medicine. Doctor and hospital staff negotiating with health insurance company staffs over charges, tests, etc.? Gone. With no premiums there would be new, modest taxes based on one’s ability to pay. And 95 percent of families would save money compared with the current system.

The Commonwealth Fund’s 2014 report on international health system efficiency ranks the United States last of 11 developed nations on measures such as quality of care, access to care, efficiency of care and equity of care.

OK, those who are 50 or younger, are you interested? One other matter – a single-payer program is not socialism. Doctors, clinics and hospitals are free to practice medicine as they know best. A single-payer approach is simply a better financial way to fund health care in this country.

Really? Doctors will be able to practice medicine as they wish under a centralized, top-down healthcare system? In fact the exact opposite will happen, causing the rationing of care and long waiting lines that are common in countries with single-payer.

Right now healthcare policy in the U.S. is in a state of limbo. Speaking for myself, I would have been comfortable with a straight-up repeal of Obamacare. But whatever the answer is, it isn’t single payer.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...