As the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future recently noted, the impressive progress our nation has made in covering more Americans than ever before – and the opportunity to cover millions more by using the tools available to us under our current system – “stands as a strong rebuke” to those who argue we should throw our system away and start from scratch with one-size-fits-all Medicare for all-style government programs, including so-called “buy-in” or a “public option” proposals that are simply stepping stones to a single-payer system.
The American people agree, and a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most voters want our elected leaders in Congress to focus on protecting and improving upon what works in America’s health care system, not on disruptive, costly Medicare for all-style proposals. The same poll found that – from eliminating the choice and control Americans enjoy through market-based coverage, to subjecting patients to treatment delays and a lower quality of care, to the fact that such proposals would force families to pay more, including through higher taxes – Americans are simply not on board with a one-size-fits-all approach to health care.
While some continue to push for destructive Medicare for all-style proposals that would scrap our entire health care system, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future and its member organizations are engaging in a constructive, forward-looking conversation about how to make our health care system even stronger for Americans.
For instance, Barbara L. McAneny, MD, President of the American Medical Association writes that “all Americans should have access to affordable, quality health insurance coverage,” and explains why “the best way to achieve this is to build on the model of private and public coverage already in place, which has successfully increased access to health insurance for millions of Americans previously unable to obtain it.” Improving upon the gains we have made within our current health care system, she says, “appropriately targets providing coverage to the uninsured population, rather than upending the health insurance coverage of most Americans. It preserves the ability of patients to choose the health plan that meets their health and budgetary needs – including the ability to remain covered by options they have long relied on, including employer-sponsored coverage.”
On the other hand, Doctor McAneny recognizes that a Medicare for all-style approach would disrupt Americans’ coverage and care, and present taxpayers with an astronomical price tag:
Employer-based insurance has been the dominant form of U.S. health care coverage for decades. Polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation and others shows that most Americans (as many as 83 percent, according to Kaiser) are satisfied with their employer-based coverage. Disruption aside, the financial burden that would be imposed by a Medicare for All model is unsustainable by any measure. Imagine shifting all current health care spending – by individuals and households, by businesses, and by state and local governments – onto the back of the U.S. Treasury. It has been estimated that Medicare for All would increase federal spending by at least $32 trillion over ten years. How will that be paid for?
So let’s continue to discuss realistic, constructive ideas for making our health care system work better for all Americans. Let’s protect and build upon what is working, while coming together to fix what is broken.