Monday, October 22, 2018
Medicare for All is gaining more attention as more candidates for office are including that in their platforms for the 2018 midterms. Kaiser Health News ran this article, Politicians Hop Aboard ‘Medicare-For-All’ Train, Destination Unknown. According to the article, starting primarily with Senator Sanders in his run for president, it seems that many are now using Medicare for All in their platforms, but do we really know what it entails?
After decades in the political wilderness, “Medicare-for-all” and single-payer health care are suddenly popular. The words appear in political advertisements and are cheered at campaign rallies — even in deep-red states. They are promoted by a growing number of high-profile Democratic candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Texas.
Republicans are concerned enough that this month President Donald Trump wrote a scathing op-ed essay that portrayed Medicare for all as a threat to older people and to American freedom.
It is not that. But what exactly these proposals mean to many of the people who say they support them remains unclear
Are we using single payer and Medicare for All interchangeably? Appropriately? What do we even mean? "In precise terms, Medicare-for-all means bringing all Americans under the government’s insurance program now reserved for people 65 and over, while single-payer health care would have the government pay everyone’s medical bills. But few politicians are speaking precisely."
The article explains that in polling, health care concerns rank right up there at the top, but there doesn't seem to be one unified plan supported by everyone. But then, there is an important part of the message that may not be absorbed by voters-the potential for tax increases. The article focuses on other alternatives used to provide health care for everyone, in countries such as the U.K. and Canada, which are very close to single-payer systems. The article also notes the impact on jobs if the US were to move to a single-payer system.
Some candidates do offer specifics but others don't. How important are the details at this point? You may be surprised:
[One] pollster ... suggested that policy details simply aren’t as relevant in a midterm year and that for now we shouldn’t expect a candidate’s support for Medicare-for-all to be anything more than a way to signal his or her values. But she suggested that will change in the run-up to 2020, adding, “When we head into the presidential election, people will probably be pickier and want more details.”
That gives politicians and voters a few years to decide what they mean and what they want when they say they support Medicare-for-all or single-payer health care. For now, it’s hard to read too much into promises.