The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” in late March. The mandate would require that almost everyone in the US be covered by some form of health insurance, public or private, by 2014 or be fined.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the mandate is unpopular with both the right and left. On nearly the same day, single-payer supporters and free market health insurance supporters filed separate amicus briefs asking the Supreme Court to strike down the mandate.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, we will still be left with an inadequate healthcare reform law. Even with the mandate, the ACA will leave at least 20 million people uninsured, fail to reduce healthcare costs, and keep multimillion dollar for-profit private insurance companies up and running (and who will undoubtedly find ways to weasel out of any positive aspects of the ACA). Despite what pundits and Obama’s administration say, we’ve still got a long way to go before we get universal, equitable, and affordable healthcare in this country.
Since the ACA is clearly a flawed law, let’s focus on expanding and improving what we already know works: Medicare.
For almost fifty years, Medicare has saved millions of people over 65’s lives and lifted just as many out of poverty. Without Medicare and Social Security the poverty rate for seniors (.pdf) would be 48% instead of its current 10%.
Medicare operates with a fraction of the overhead cost of private insurance plans. Currently, our multi-payer system takes nearly a third of every healthcare dollar spent to cover administrative costs. Medicare’s administrative costs are only 3%. With Medicare-for-all, we would save $400 billion annually.
Medicare’s patients are much more satisfied than those with private insurance. The National Journal reported that:
“56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give their ‘health plan’ a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale. Similarly, 60 percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Managed Care rated their plans a 9 or 10. But…only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating.”
Given Medicare’s success and popularity, one would think it was politically untouchable–but it’s not. Republicans proposed making Medicare a voucher program, effectively privatizing and destroying Medicare as we know it. And Democrats have offered cuts to benefits and doctor reimbursements as a compromise for higher taxes on the extremely wealthy.
We must act now. With the ruling on the constitutionality of the ACA, healthcare reform is once again on the minds of Congress, the President, and the general public.
Send an email to Congress and the President with the following message: No matter the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision on the individual mandate to buy health insurance, the Affordable Care Act is flawed because it leaves millions of people uninsured and does nothing to reduce costs. Medicare is constitutional, loved, and cost-effective and should be improved and expanded to cover everyone under a single-payer healthcare system.
In solidarity for single-payer,
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff and Steering Committee
–Court Action Could Prolong Health Care Fight
–50 Doctors for Single-Payer Urge Supreme Court to Strike Down Individual Mandate
–Four Groups File Amicus Brief Against Obamacare
–Health Reform Necessary: But Will the Affordable Care Act Be Sufficient?
–Talking Points on Medicare and Social Security
–Single-Payer FAQ – Bureaucracy
–Who’s Afraid of Public Insurance?
–The Ryan Medicaid Plan a Threat to Middle Class Security
–Supercommittee Dems Offer $350 Billion in Medicare Cuts