Letter: The one way forward is Medicare for all

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In response to Rebecca Crandall’s recent letter regarding Rep. Patrick McHenry’s 10th Congressional District town hall meetings [“Brown Will Help Middle- and Lower-Class Families,” Aug. 22, Xpress]: I agree with her assessment — the Buncombe County venues are usually scheduled at inconvenient times for those who work (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and in limited spaces. I went to his Shelby town hall meeting at the historic Don Gibson Theatre. Compare this to the Riceville fire station for his recent August meeting in Buncombe. Nobody had to wait outside at the Shelby venue.

On a positive note: Rep. McHenry allows constituents to ask their own questions, in stark contrast to Rep. Mark Meadows (District 11), where all questions are screened by his staff as a way to control the process. I find this violates the “spirit” of a town hall, which allows for the “voice” of the people, as in We the People.

My comments for Rep. McHenry addressed the current health care crisis in the U.S. He proposes that recent legislation in the House to modernize and improve access to health savings accounts will reduce the costs of health care but fails to explain these accounts are short-term, to be renewed annually; may not cover pre-existing conditions or the cost of drugs. Nor does it save us from the “hell” of choosing the best “deal” from the maze of constantly changing health insurance plans. Health savings accounts will not fix our broken health care system or slow the rising costs of health care. In 2017, Americans spent $3.5 trillion on health care. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care costs will rise 5.5 percent annually through 2026.

Americans are tired of paying too much for health care. We are fed up with politicians pursuing partial and incremental solutions, such as health savings accounts. For many of us, it looks like health insurers, drug manufacturers and highly paid lobbyists corrupt our democracy. I could go on: how the U.S. spends over twice as much per capita on health care as any other developed country; that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses, etc.

There is only one way forward: Medicare for All. For the first time a majority of Americans now support an Expanded Medicare for All, which was introduced in the House in 2016 (HR 676) and now has 123 co-sponsors. David Wilson Brown, the Democratic challenger to McHenry, supports this legislation. I hope this will be part of any public debate between the candidates and before early voting starts on Oct. 17.

Lastly, for anybody interested in health care for all, there will be a screening of “FIX IT: Healthcare at the Tipping Point,” on Sept. 11 at Habitat Tavern & Commons [174 Broadway] in Asheville at 7 p.m. This will be followed by a discussion, led by local physician members of the national organization, Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org).

— Roger Turner


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8 thoughts on “Letter: The one way forward is Medicare for all

  1. Lulz

    LOL so if your “democracy” is corrupted by big pharma, why would you want it to control your healthcare via the government? Are you that ignorant to assume the wealthy will settle for the same medicare insanity for all that you believe in?

    Have you explained to the unaware of the costs of such insanity? And the control of the population on the other? Bye bye Asheville restaurants and bars. Your industry is now part of the leading causes of death and medical spending. Do you honestly think that government will allow such places to survive? They’d be regulated out of existence.

  2. Stan Hawkins

    Medicare for all “sounds” like a good thing. I noticed that in the statistics and math you provided, noticeably missing is a 10 year projection on the dollars needed to fund your proposal? Should you care to provide, please do so on a gross basis before tax revenue offsets.

    Also, what would be your plan to offset the demise of Health Insurance companies along with offsetting the free fall of pension and 401k plans exposed to investments in health care insurance and associated stocks and bonds? Have you given any thought as to how the capital markets as a whole may be effected by Medicare For All legislation? Would there be an increase in unemployment? If so, what would be the cost for that? Would there be a bailout needed for these companies, private state and local pensions, and for the citizens effected by this new legislation? If so, how many dollars would be needed to fund the bailout? Further, do you have any information on the impact this may have on the supply of new doctors and medical professionals entering the health care field?

    There is certainly a good case to be made for the goal of quality health care for all citizens. Certainly it can be said that the political will to solve this issue effectively seems almost a bridge too far. Recent history reveals that the track record of government involvement in the goals of “home ownership for all”, and “health care for all” has not been successful, both of which resulting in exploding government deficits, and one of which helping to trigger the “Great Recession.”

    As with all things, one should have a budget for the goals in life. I am not opposed to your proposal necessarily, but if you are proposing to take dollars from the private sector to achieve your goals, I am entitled to know what that balance sheet looks like along with what effects to the quality, supply, and demand to health care would result.


    • luther blissett

      ” what would be your plan to offset the demise of Health Insurance companies”

      The plan is nothing. The abolition of slavery also destroyed a large amount of parasitic capital that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Some private insurers might want to remain in a secondary capacity, as with Medicare Advantage or the supplemental insurers in Israel or France or Australia, where your premium covers a nicer room instead of reducing your $250,000 surgery bill; some might want to go into a different, more legitimate line of business. Find me the world’s tiniest violin for the people who profit from making insulin unaffordable for Type 1 diabetics.

      “I am entitled to know what that balance sheet looks like along with what effects to the quality, supply, and demand to health care would result.”

      The Commonwealth Fund runs the numbers. It costs about $6,000 per person per year to provide universal healthcare in a developed nation. That’s less than the equivalent public healthcare expenditure — Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, etc. — in the US, that is, before counting private expenditure. The total is $2 trillion per year. Medicare for All would be more expensive than the global average and closer to the Swiss level of spending, but still cheaper in per capita per annum spend.

      The question is actually why you are gut-level opposed to something that works in every other developed nation, with the support of conservative and liberal parties. Is it because the US isn’t as capable as those countries? That you think poor people should die of treatable conditions? Are you an investor in GoFundMe?

      On McHenry: the letter-writer is correct that he books larger venues in the parts of his district he actually cares about. An advocate for protecting pre-existing conditions went to his meetings in Shelby and Forest City, one in the morning, one in the afternoon: he told a person in Shelby that he understood their concerns about a certain issue and a person in Forest City that he wasn’t aware of the same issue. What a politician.

      • Stan Hawkins

        “the plan is nothing”

        Just as I thought. I suppose that means in the unwind all the public / private pensions, college endowment funds, 401ks, union pensions, and retirees depending on the dividends in healthcare mutual funds will be issued what, government printed bonds? I guess also that all the scientists will now be working for Uncle Sam. I hear his pockets are “deep but slippery.”

        “Parasitic Capital”

        Hmmm, I guess I need to stock up on some greasy hamburgers, a butt load of cigarettes, cruise by the paraphernalia store, score a couple lbs, get some donuts, and protest outside of New Belgium Scierra Nevada Wicked Weed, buy me some $200 Nikes, get some free health insurance, and then go knock on Buncombe Gov door and ask them to solve all my “parasitical problems.”

        Whewwww! I feel better. Shucks, why don’t we just advocate taking over all capital enterprises, I am sure we can find something wrong with all of them. After all, government is very efficient and profit is such a dirty word.

        Let’s just call up that dude that said “Americans are to dumb to know what we are doing” when designing the Healthcare.Gov process and website during the ACA act startup. He can solve this I am sure.

  3. NFB

    Medicare for all is NOT the ONLY way forward.

    There are many ways to implement universal health care. Medicare for all, or some other form of single payer, is just one of those methods. Most countries in the world that have universal health care do not have a single payer system. Universal health care is a noble goal but there is more than one way to get there.

    • Lulz

      As long as politicians are selling out the nation with open borders, it’ll never happen for citizens. 150 billion a year in subsidies for people that don’t belong here is a disgrace. And that doesn’t include the medical care they eat up that others pay for.

    • B.E. Vickroy

      Universal Medical Care – from the perspective of a 3xin 3yr patient in AR & CA hospitals. I had only single room, excellent care, and private health insurance. I don’t know if these hospitals [MERCY -SCRIPS] have multi-bed wards.
      Below are snips from a discussion thread on the subject of WARDS vs PRIVATE ROOMS in nations with free medical for all care. The FOR ALL aspect is probably what drives Canuks and Brits to US hospital stays. The more who are served FREE, the level of service is diminished. It appears that even in nations with FREE MEDICAL CARE, those who can afford an extra expense, will get something similar to the US standard.
      Nations described: Ireland, England, Spain, China, Australia, Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Brazil.
      In my experience (only ever as a visitor, so far), Irish hospitals have rooms of various sizes, from 1 bed up to 6 beds.
      From personal experience most hospitals in England are made up of wards with a small percentage single or double rooms. I’ve stayed in both but mostly on wards I’d expect this would definitely save money over hospitals with only private rooms; it’s easier for nurses to see if a number of people are all okay at the same time, require less maintenance and be easier to run with a limited number of staff. I’ve been in a Spanish hospital (out patient only) and that was in a ward in the ER, I’ve also been in the ER and a couple hospitals in China. The ER had a ward, the first hospital they wanted to put me in had wards, but I eventually stayed in the building for senior Communist Party Members which had rooms with only two beds (and tv, fridge freezer, private bathroom, room service, attractive nurses etc etc).
      In England it depends on the age of the hospital, but certainly there will usually be wards and some single rooms. Higher dependency wards, like Intensive Care, have fewer beds and more staff. Not sure how universal this is, but in my experience you get a room based on clinical need, or you can pay if there are any free. For the birth of one of my children I got the room because I was ill. For the other, I opted to pay £100 a night for it.
      Depends on the age of the facility and whether in Australia it’s a public or Private hospital.
      I’ve never seen a totally open ward, usually they’re composed of a number of rooms with usually 4-6 beds to a room (public) with screen dividers and the occasional room of 1 or 2 beds for patients with high acuity. In a public hospital if you have to be admitted, you get what you’re given but it costs nothing as it’s all covered by medicare. People generally go to private hospitals for elective treatment to jump the waiting list in the public system and that’s when it costs and you need private health insurance.
      As others indicate, all countries in which I have had the pleasure of seeing a hospital on the inside have both the large wards and private rooms. So that applies to the Netherlands, the UK and Brazil (though in Brazil I think it is 100% dependent on the kind of hospital, some I think are all shared wards).
      The few Canadian hospitals I’ve been in, they were mainly 4-bed rooms; so not quite wards, but not really private. They had curtains to draw around any bed when the patient or doctor needed the privacy. Based on the crowding, it’s more spacious than the cliche “ward”, but a lot more efficient use of space than the private room. Of course, that’s because each room had a washroom, so 1 per 4 beds is more efficient spacewise than 1 per bed.
      In Israel, a typical stay in the hospital means you are in a room with six beds. The few single rooms are reserved for serious cases, isolation, etc. The more modern hospitals have more single rooms, the older ones have mostly 6-bed rooms. Yes, it’s a bit crowded and unpleasant.
      But ,hey, it is 100%, totally free.* *Well, almost free…….When my mother was hospitalized for 3 weeks, and it cost the family over $250—to pay for parking the car every time we visited.
      HIPAA (Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act) may also have something to do with any conversion to single or double rooms with it’s stress on patient privacy. You can’t discuss a problem with a patient when others are in the same room, after all.

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