On Aug. 27, 2019, the Asheville City Council made a proclamation in support of Improved Medicare for All. No one foresaw the COVID-19 pandemic, a condition that has now made Medicare for All a much more urgent issue.
In accepting that proclamation, I outlined the tenets of HR 1384, the Improved Medicare for All bill that was introduced to Congress by Rep. Pramila Jayapal in March 2019. She was surrounded by National Nurses United that day, the same union that our Mission Hospital nurses are seeking to join.
The tenets are:
• Everyone is issued a universal health card when they are born that expires when they die.
• The single-payer plan creates one national entity that pays for health care in the U.S., eliminating the chaos of the private insurers and complexity of the bureaucracy that consumes 30% of our health care dollar.
• The right to choose your own health care providers is preserved.
• Copays, deductibles, premiums and all other out-of-pocket costs are abolished with a modest increase in personal taxes that are predictable every year. Drug prices, diagnostic testing, hospital stays and medical equipment prices are all negotiated and standardized.
• Employers are no longer providers of health care insurance, so that they can manage their budgets without factoring in runaway health care costs (including cities and municipalities, like Asheville).
• Since all individuals have their own health coverage, people are free to change jobs, move to different locales and be entrepreneurs without concern about their health care coverage. (Asheville entrepreneurs, I am talking to you!)
• Physicians have their documentation/billing issues streamlined and minimized, getting back to the business of taking care of patients.
As a physician, I saw how important that “golden ticket” known as the Medicare card was for my patients. Everyone has a need for this “golden ticket,” especially in this time of COVID-19.
It’s time for this new prescription.
— Ellen Kaczmarek, M.D.