The case for Medicare for All is simple. It would cover everyone, period. Done right, it would lower costs. And it would ease paperwork and confusion.
Pediatrician Donald M. Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is a lecturer and former faculty member at the Harvard Medical School and was administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration.
USAToday, Oct 22, 2019
With costs rising painfully, insurance companies denying care and nearly 30 million people still uninsured, America desperately needs an honest health policy discussion. That’s why it has been so disappointing over the past several weeks to watch multiple candidates parrot right-wing attacks on “Medicare for All,” like claiming that it will greatly increase spending on health care or ringing alarms about raising taxes on the middle class.
The truth is the opposite: Medicare for All would sharply reduce overall spending on health care. It can be thoughtfully designed to reduce total costs for the vast majority of American families, while improving the quality of the care they get.
Over my career, I have witnessed the problems with our health care system firsthand. As a pediatrician, I have seen how our fragmented, expensive system hurts children and families. As a researcher at Harvard Medical School, I have studied the causes of waste and overspending in our system. And as President Barack Obama’s head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, I led the existing Medicare system and helped stand up Obamacare.
What I saw convinced me that the Affordable Care Act was an essential step forward. But covering all Americans through a single-payer, federal insurance program would now be a wiser path. President Obama has said it himself: It is now time for “good new ideas like Medicare for All.”
The case for Medicare for All is simple. It would cover everyone — period. Done right, it would lower costs, a lot, while letting us leverage health care dollars to respond to public health crises like the opioid epidemic, invest in disease prevention and modernize care delivery with telemedicine. And it would be simpler, easing the onerous burdens of billing for doctors, endless paperwork for all health care professionals, and navigating the confusing coverage system for patients and families. Compared with some candidates’ plans that retain our patchwork of coverage, Medicare for All wins twice: on both simplicity and savings.
Some candidates have attempted to sidestep the cost debate by promising to spend less and accomplish the same goals. These proposals, such as relying on a public option or expanding Medicare Advantage, offering private plans within Medicare, provide too few details to allow real cost comparisons. But it is unlikely they will do as much as Medicare for All would to reduce national health care spending or reduce costs for families.