Tweaks won’t do what Trump wants: cover everyone, improve care and lower costs. Their fatal flaw is they rely on the profit-driven insurance industry.
The Senate’s chaotic attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act prove that Republicans who campaigned for years against the ACA never had a plan to replace it. In the meantime, Americans’ support for a comprehensive national health plan grows even stronger.
As a physician and longtime advocate for Medicare for all, I’m ready for an honest, bipartisan dialogue about the shortcomings of the ACA.
However, in the last few weeks, I’ve read proposals to “fix” the ACA by funneling even more money to private insurers, or to lower premiums by stripping out patient protections. I’ve seen plans to let patients buy into Medicaid or Medicare, or to establish a public option to compete with private plans.
But unlike a comprehensive single-payer program, these “band-aid” proposals are merely tweaks disguised as solutions. They are sold as easy, politically achievable, and best of all, NOT disruptive.
What exactly are we afraid of disrupting? Under Medicare for all, the only people worse off would be insurance and pharmaceutical company executives like Mark Bertolini of Aetna, who made $41 million last year, or John Martin of Gilead Sciences who took home nearly $900 million. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe would have to rethink a business model fueled by desperate families facing catastrophic illness and bankruptcy.
Under Medicare for all, doctors would continue to care for their patients, but would have to decide how to spend the extra nine hours they used to waste each week on administrative tasks like billing. Patients could visit the doctors and hospitals they like, but the average family would have to plan how to spend the countless hours they wasted haggling with private insurers and negotiating medical debt. Businesses would have to decide what to do with the time they spent shopping for small group policies and sweating over outrageous annual cost increases. The millions of Americans tied to jobs they don’t like would be free to move on, or to…