As Co-Coordinator of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)’s Healthcare is a Human Right Issue Team, I’m giving my Top Reasons that we need Medicare For All (MFA), and a few thoughts on my experiences as an Emergency Room physician that led me to support MFA. After an entire career of 37+ years in medicine spent in the Emergency Room, I can see now that the crisis we now face in American Healthcare resulted from a gradual decline in attention to the needs of people rather than profits to certain individuals.
Here’s the short version: Medicare For All (MFA) will save 10,000s of lives and 100s of $billions each year. Call Congress 202-858-1717 and Click Here to tell your Representative to Cosponsor Rep. Jayapal’s and Rep. Dingell’s Medicare For All Act now! Click Here to tell your Senators to cosponsor Bernie’s MFA bill.
When patient after patient would present with poorly-treated diabetes or high blood pressure—which of course could go on to cause strokes or heart attacks. And when almost every night on my ER overnight shift I would see folks with untreated dental infections due to neglect from the anticipated personal costs for adequate dental care.
Or worse yet when ER beds would be filled with mental health and chemical dependence sufferers who would stay days or weeks at a time due to literally having nowhere else to go. I knew it was not possible that it could be situational or coincidental. It had to be systemic.
The political drivers of seeing Healthcare as a commodity instead of a human need, were more and more creating the schism between the haves and have-nots in medical treatment, the uninsured and the underinsured were clearly becoming more and more the normal in my practice setting.
All of this and my own predilection to see almost everything through a political lens has led me to conclude that at the present at least these would be the top five reasons we need MFA, and need it now not later:
1. America does not have the best Healthcare in the world, in fact we are last in outcomes among all of the world’s developed nations. That means we are not doing the basics well let alone the more complex things that we would need to do to even consider ourselves competitive. And, we can and should use as a model any of those other developed countries or some combination of their systems to improve.
2. Among those developed nations outperforming us, the vast majority offer basic and even more involved medical services to their people with absolutely no impediment to access. This means that those countries that recognize the right in a civilized society to Healthcare as a human need have no financial disincentive to those seeking care. As a physician I can tell you that patients will all too often make the wrong medical decisions based on their pocketbook when it should just be based on sound professional advice.
3. The tremendous waste of resources in American Healthcare is clearly coming from the waste, fraud, and abuse of primarily sources, big insurance and big pharma. Big insurance wastes up to 20% of our Healthcare dollars on claims processing, CEO pay, and advertising, and fraudulently sets prices in closed door negotiations with hospitals and doctors that affords no opportunity for basic consumer practices let alone any chance at regulation by public agencies.
And big pharma is even worse with similar closed-door negotiations commonly resulting in predatory pricing, and abuse with practices of charging based on vital personal need rather than the actual costs to produce and distribute drugs. These are legalized mob practices, with pharma reps who might as well be saying to you, “Gee, that’s a nice kid with allergies you got there, ‘be a shame if you couldn’t buy an EpiPen for just $350 for her!” This when it should probably go for $1.50!
4. Doctors, nurses, and other providers need MFA to streamline their practices, with standardized billing and high quality of care. But even more importantly, because it would guarantee that their patients would at least have no financial deterrence to following their plan of treatment. How gratifying it must be to practice in Canada or Taiwan knowing that a recommended course of treatment if actually followed with excellent outcomes as a result?
This is in fact why MFA type systems have half the rate of malpractice suits that we have in the US. Patients have the chance to see their doctor, follow and trust their advice, and when something bad happens understand that bad things happen sometimes despite all our best intentions and efforts.
5. We need MFA because 70% of Americans now want it. MFA meaning two things, “Medicare” which most of us are familiar with because we ourselves are on it or know someone who is and loves it, we just want a few more vital services added to it like dental, vision, and long-term care.
And “for all” meaning everybody in nobody out. No buy-ins, copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket, or other surprise charges that make it more painful to go to the receptionist’s desk after an office visit or the cashiers at the end of a hospital stay than anything else that had to be done to you while you were there.
I know that’s a lot to absorb but it’s the bottom line, at least from this recently retired ER physician’s point of view. The bottom line is we need MFA now, not a year from now not 5 or 10 years from now. I wish we could have had it 30 years ago, but I’d settle for now. We need it because it’s the right thing to do for the American people. It will save money and save lives.
We appreciate all you do to help make progress on Medicare For All and other issues. Whether you’ve given before or if you’ve never donated to help PDA help you pressure our elected officials before, now is the perfect time to give. We need your generous support now more than ever. Click here to support PDA’s Medicare For All action fund.
Dr. Bill Honigman for Alan, Donna, Dan, Janis, Deb, Kimberly, Bryan, Mike F., Mike H., and Shayna—your PDA Medicare For All team.
P.S. We're here to help you make progress in your state and locality! If you need help organizing a new PDA chapter or energizing your existing chapter, please contact PDA Field Coordinator Dan O’Neal. Join the PDA Phone Team making easy, effective calls from your own home with Mike “Phone Guy” Fox. Also please pitch in $1000, $100, or whatever you can afford to support our organizing for Medicare For All.
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