To the editor:
Medicare for All is overdue. While the current political excitement about shifting to a single-payer healthcare system may seem like a radically new idea, universal health insurance was actually the true goal for the architects of the 1965 Medicare Law.
One of those architects, Robert Ball, Social Security commissioner in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, wrote in the Winter 1995 issue of Health Affairs that, “All of us who developed Medicare and fought for it …. had been advocates of universal national health insurance. We all saw insurance for the elderly as a fallback position, which we advocated solely because it seemed to have the best change politically…. we expected Medicare to be a first step, perhaps with ‘Kiddiecare’ as another step.”
Medicare for seniors has been a public health triumph and a rousing political success.
Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris are right to call us to complete that vision in their Medicare for All Act, Senate Bill 1129.
Eighty-eight percent of those old enough to qualify for Medicare consider its coverage excellent/good, according to a December 2018 Gallup poll, far above the 69 percent of 50-64 year-olds who consider their private insurance excellent/good.
Medicare for All isn’t a politically damaging, insurance take-away, as some political commentators such as Dick Polman (Bainbridge Review, July 5) have characterized it.
Rather it’s a health insurance upgrade to more comprehensive and less-expensive coverage even for people with satisfactory private insurance, while being a literal lifesaver for the uninsured.
Medicare for All is also politically popular; 58 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported the idea in a July New York Times/Survey Monkey poll, including even at least 4 percent of President Trump supporters.
It’s about time that the U.S. took that next step to universal coverage with its concomitant improved healthcare outcomes, increased worker productivity, and greater income equality.