What Trump gets wrong about Medicare-for-all

President Trump's ...

Posted: Oct 14, 2018 12:05 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2018 12:05 PM

President Trump's critique of "Medicare-for-all" reform assaults the truth. Contrary to his claims, the single-payer bills in the House and Senate would upgrade coverage and broaden choice for seniors, along with the rest of Americans. And Medicare-for-all would slow the growth of medical costs, assuring Medicare's long-term financial health.

Medicare currently leaves many seniors facing unaffordable medical bills. According to estimates from the Commonwealth Fund, the average enrollee spends $3,024 out of their own pockets on medical bills each year, and medical costs eat up more than 20% of total income for one in four seniors.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Donald Trump

Government health insurance

Health and medical

Health care

Health insurance

Insurance

Medicare

Political Figures - US

Single-payer health insurance

Social assistance and welfare

Society

Canada

Continents and regions

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Health care costs

Health care professionals

North America

Physicians and surgeons

The Americas

US federal government

White House

To escape some of those costs, many seniors are fleeing to private Medicare Advantage plans that restrict their enrollees to narrow networks of doctors, and often exclude cancer centers and other top-tier hospitals. But the trade-off might not be worth the savings, since the average person enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan is still saddled with $2,472 in uncovered medical bills.

Medicare-for-all would plug these coverage holes, eliminating virtually all copayments, deductibles and uncovered services. It would also free seniors to choose any hospital and any doctor, and spare doctors from the managed care paperwork and restrictions on referrals imposed by Medicare Advantage plans, freeing up more time to spend with patients.

The President's claim that Medicare-for-all would break the bank rests on a study by the Mercatus Center, which receives funding from the conservative Koch brothers. But Trump leaves out the fact that even the Mercatus study concluded that a single-payer reform would actually reduce medical spending by $2 trillion over 10 years; the federal government's health spending would rise, but spending by employers, state and local government, and families would fall by an even larger amount.

The bottom line of the Mercatus study (which probably underestimates single payers' savings), and many others is that single-payer reform would lower costs for the vast majority -- including seniors -- and avert the funding crisis that looms over Medicare.

Medicare-for-all can upgrade coverage while lowering costs by cutting out the insurance middlemen who currently drain hundreds of billions annually from our health care system but add no value. This year alone, private health insurers' overhead -- the money they collect in premiums that goes for marketing, accounting, executives' bonuses, profits and more, instead of care -- will total $256.3 billion, 12% of their premiums. That's fivefold higher than the traditional Medicare program's 2% overhead, according to 2017 data.

And Medicare-for-all would shrink billing and paperwork costs for doctors and hospitals, which currently contend with the arcane billing, coverage and documentation requirements of hundreds of different insurance plans. In countries with single-payer programs like Canada (Canada's program is called Medicare) and Scotland, hospitals spend half as much as US hospitals, percentagewise, on administration. And according to research published in 2011, the average doctor in the United States was spending $89,975 each year dealing with insurance paperwork, $60,770 more than Canadian doctors spent under that nation's Medicare-for-all system.

Overall, a single-payer reform could save more than $500 billion annually on insurance overhead and providers' billing costs. In addition, our research shows that a Medicare-for-all program could use its market clout to bargain down drug prices to the levels in Canada and Europe, saving another $113 billion. The savings on bureaucracy and drug prices are more than enough to cover the nearly 29 million Americans uninsured in 2017, and improve the coverage for seniors and the tens of millions of others with unaffordable copayments and deductibles.

In his effort to tar Medicare-for-all as a socialist plot, the President invokes the example of Venezuela. But he ignores the successes of single-payer programs in capitalist countries like Canada, Australia, Scotland and much of Europe. The national health insurance programs in those nations cover everyone, cost half as much (per person) as our system, and get better results; US life expectancy, which used to lead the world, has stagnated and now lags years behind that of Canada and most of Europe. For what we're now spending, we could have a Rolls- Royce version of Canada's system.

The President's fear-mongering about waiting lists, bankrupt doctors and hospitals, and socialism mirrors rhetoric in the campaign to block Medicare in the mid-1960s. Back then, The Wall Street Journal warned about "patient pileups," and the American Medical Association mounted a campaign featuring Ronald Reagan that smeared Medicare as creeping socialism that would rob Americans' freedom.

But today, America's doctors are rallying to Medicare-for-all. Polls show that many doctors, and most Americans, favor such reform, and thousands have endorsed Physicians for a National Health Program's single-payer proposals. A 2018 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found six in 10 favor a national health care plan.

Ironically, the President claims the mantle of Medicare's protector, even as his chief economic adviser has announced plans for "entitlement reform" -- Washington-speak for cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to press for the repeal of the ACA's coverage expansions, and its pre-existing condition protections. While the sham replacement they offer would guarantee people with a pre-existing condition the right to buy coverage, insurers could refuse to pay bills for the condition.

President Trump's Medicare-for-all attack rests on fake facts and baseless smears. The insurance companies and drug firms whose profits would shrink under single payer will no doubt welcome his words. But the truth is that Medicare-for-all isn't just the best way to fix our broken health care system -- it's the only way.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
Lafayette8542139
Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
Alcorn5662101
Lincoln5431134
George496579
Scott472198
Tippah468381
Prentiss466581
Leflore4654144
Itawamba4628105
Adams4584119
Tate4579109
Copiah447792
Simpson4440116
Yazoo443687
Wayne439172
Covington428694
Sunflower4235105
Marion4225107
Coahoma4154104
Leake408088
Newton381679
Grenada3703108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359492
Attala331089
Jasper329565
Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Our stretch of dry weather will briefly be interrupted with rainfall chances through mid-day Thursday, but it’s hardly the only chance for rain for we have going forward.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather