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Town hall will explore concept of 'Medicare for All' system

Maryland Gazette - 1/25/2020

Ten years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act we can see that its aims have failed as many single-payer advocates predicted it would at the time of its passage.

Health care costs are still rising by double-digit percentages, health care bills remain the No. 1 reason for bankruptcies, and prescription costs continue to skyrocket forcing people to gamble with their lives by rationing their drugs.

Health insurance companies can still deny drugs and treatment on a whim as the true death panels that we were warned about, which I have experienced first hand.

Complex, confusing plan coverages make it so people think they are covered but find they are not, or buy what they can afford which gives little coverage.

The truth is we often don't know what kind of health care we are going to need. We simply know we want the treatments we need when we need them.

The experience in our system is not enjoyable, as governments, business owners, and regular people should not have to be experts in coverages and insurance markets. Many of us have had poor experiences with our current health care system or know someone who has.

In the wealthiest country in the history of the planet, we cannot allow this to continue to stand.

There is a solution it is time for us to implement - a single-payer, improved "Medicare for All" system. Single-payer is not a radical solution, it has been proven successful and far better than our current system by most metrics in other countries for decades now.

Sunday, the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition and other groups holding town halls around the state to educate people on this idea are coming to Annapolis. From 2 to 4 p.m. at the Stanton Center in Annapolis, experts will speak on what the improved Medicare for All is and how it works. There will be lots of time for questions and answers.

A single-payer, improved Medicare for All system would be a publicly financed, privately administered system with no out-of-pocket costs at the doctor's office or point of service.

It would cover all residents of the United States for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.

So we really can keep our doctor, or switch to another, without the restrictions of a provider network. And to boot, this system would cost approximately 20% less than our current system while achieving universal coverage, primarily through streamlining administration and prescription cost negotiation.

It is non-partisan, as there is a strong conservative case for single-payer and many conservatives support it once it is explained how it works.

The question isn't how we're going to pay for single-payer - it is how are we going to continue to pay for our current system?

Huge amounts of corporate money are being spent to inject misinformation into the health care conversation by the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

It also does not help that many presidential candidates are attempting to co-opt the term "Medicare for All" by using the popular phrase - but their plans are not single-payer.

To be clear, the only presidential candidate who has a real single-payer, Medicare for All plan is Bernie Sanders. That is one of many reasons I support him.

I encourage you to come out Sunday afternoon and vaccinate yourself from the untruths infecting our conversation.

For those who can't make it but still want to learn, there will be a livestream of the event at the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition Facebook page.

Phil Ateto is a community activist who has worked as a member of the Backbone Campaign and other groups. He lives in Annapolis.

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