As the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee prepares to hold a hearing on one-size-fits-all government-run health care, voices throughout the nation encouraged elected officials to improve and build on what is working and fix what isn’t, while opposing a one-size-fits-all government-run system that will force Americans to pay more.

Brian Feldman, Regional Director Of The Healthcare Leadership Council, Alabama:

… Every American deserves access to affordable coverage. However, we shouldn’t do it at the expense of high-quality care or access.  Medicare for All is a government insurance system that would force everyone into a one-size-fits-all program … Under these plans, Americans would be forced to give up their current coverage.  In fact, it would cause 91 percent of Americans to lose their current plan, many of whom rely on coverage to receive the care they need.

Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would also compromise the high-quality care that every American deserves.  The Congressional Budget Office says implementing a Medicare for All plan would be “complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive.”  With a single-payer system, the CBO says patients may see longer wait times, reduced access to care and loss of services.

… This diminished quality of care would especially hurt those in rural areas.  Government insurance systems would lead to massive cuts in funding, exacerbating Alabama’s increase in rural hospital closings and health care job losses.  With Alabama’s current rural health care issues and funding woes, we can’t afford to take risks when it comes to quality and access of care.

In a time when rhetoric surrounding health care often becomes impractical and even polarizing, it’s up to our lawmakers in Washington to deliver patient-centered policies that will improve the affordability of health care without promising a one-size-fits-all approach.  Health care reform should be driven by what’s best for patients, not politics.

Barb Skelton, Former Lieutenant Governor Democratic Candidate, Montana:

… While the idea in principal sounds simple and perfect, I’ve found through my years of work that few things ever truly are.  And with the Medicare For All policies I’ve seen discussed at the national level, I see many concerns.

… From the provider perspective, Medicare payment rates are well-below those of private plans. That would result in lower revenues for providers, reducing operating margins that they need to invest in practice innovation… from a patient and taxpayer perspective, the Urban Institute estimated that a single-payer system would cost Americans $32 trillion within 10 years, potentially doubling everyone’s income taxes.  The cost though isn’t worth the quality of health care that everyone would be getting, since Medicare programs don’t have the same great coverage as employer-sponsored or ACA plans.

The better solution to the health care problem that many Americans face is to expand on the ACA and lock in its key protections … There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to health care for Americans.  In fact, Medicare For All would create more problems than it would solve.  Instead, let’s focus on common sense, comprehensive, and holistic solutions.

Tom Lorentzen, CEO Of The Minnesota Healthcare Network, Minnesota:

The most important factors for patients seeking health care are quality, access, cost and choice.  Here in Minnesota we enjoy some of the highest-quality care in the world.  Unfortunately, health care costs continue to increase at an unsustainable rate, and proposals being floated by some in Congress to move to a “Medicare for All” system would have serious impacts on health care access and consumer choice.

Government programs like Medicare control costs in several ways: by limiting the types of care patients receive, reducing consumer choice or underpaying doctors, clinics and hospitals for their costs, which can have the unintended consequence of reducing access.  This is especially problematic in rural areas where providers are already struggling to keep their doors open due to an overabundance of patients on Medicare or Medicaid, both of which vastly underpay providers compared to private insurance.

Instead of looking for ways to centralize health care that would reduce choice and access, Congress should be embracing the future of individualized medicine by empowering patients with more options and incentivizing providers to compete to deliver high-quality, affordable care.

Jennifer Nunez, Nurse, New Hampshire:

… We all want our friends and neighbors to have access to high quality, affordable options.  A government run public option or buy-in system might sound appealing but consider this – under some of the new proposed plans New Hampshire could stand to lose $2.5 billion in hospital funding due to far lower reimbursement rates from Medicare.  Not to mention, Medicaid; which essentially pays $.30 on the dollar to hospitals, which is bound to cause hospital consolidation and closures. 

… How would a government health care option affect patients? For starters, it could make existing disparities in health care access much worse.  It would be especially troubling for those living in rural areas.  We should be finding ways to make it easier for rural families to get the treatment they need – not harder.

Dr. Issada Thongtrangan, Orthopedic Spine & Neurosurgeon, Arizona:

A single-payer health care system will harm the spine community as there will be no competition.  With single payer, there will be no options and choices, and I predict that the process to get necessarily studies and treatments will be even harder, which can potentially lead to a delay in patients’ care.  Competition drives innovation — it’s the sole reason that the U.S. has come so far in terms of science, research and technology.

Randi Thompson, Nevada:

… These plans, also referred to as a “buy-in,” and claims to let Americans choose whether they want government health care or private insurance.  In reality, it’s a false choice that would undermine the private market and put us down a slippery slope towards Medicare for All.

I am worried about what these proposals would do to costs.  A public option or buy-in plan means the government will be responsible for more people’s health care, and that means higher taxes for everyone to create these new programs.

… A public option like “Medicare X” would pay doctors and hospitals lower rates than other insurance.  Medicare already pays doctors, clinics, and hospitals 40% less on average than private insurance.  A study from the American Hospital Association and Federation of American Hospitals found that hospitals, many of which are already struggling financially, would see nearly $800 billion in cuts.  This could force health care providers to cut back on the care they provide or go out of business altogether.  This is especially dangerous in rural areas, which is “most” of Nevada, where access to care is already limited.

Instead of these far-reaching proposals, we should focus on the free market and public programs working together to increase access and options for all Americans. There’s more work to do to fix the Affordable Care Act, for sure, but there are good parts, too.  You don’t throw out good — you work to make it better. 

Dr. Brian Gantwerker, Founder Of The Craniospinal Center Of Los Angeles, California:

Ultimately anything that forces things into uniformity will breed stagnation.  We compete with each other as colleagues and specialists and make each other better through that competition.  Paying the same amount for a poorly done surgery as well as a well-done surgery will hurt quality.

It will undoubtedly create a fractured system. There will be a two-tiered medical system with those with means paying for non-assigned doctors and the rest being ‘assigned.’  Should this happen, there will be predictable unrest and lower morale amongst doctors and patients alike.  Ironically, our current system, as much as people like to pick on it, can be salvaged and fixed.