The health care plank is guided by the belief that healthcare is a human right, not a ‘for profit’ commodity.
- Need – Currently, the US for-profit market-driven system for financing and administering health care has failed in several important ways:
- It is the most expensive system in the world. The US spends more per capita in public dollars than the majority of countries that provide universal health coverage. The new federal health law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has not controlled costs.
- Even though per capita spending is extremely high in the US, health outcomes in the US rank poorly, and the number of preventable deaths is high compared to countries with universal health care systems, especially for low income and communities of color. In some areas of the US, life expectancies, infant mortality and rates of disease are similar to developing nations.
- Despite the ACA, tens of millions of people are uninsured, and tens of millions more are underinsured. There are multiple tiers of coverage based on a patient’s ability to pay. Due to high out of pocket costs, narrow provider networks, limited access to specialists, and 19 states refusing Medicaid expansion, many cannot afford the care they need. Medical bills remain the leading cause of bankruptcy and foreclosure.
- The ACA did not achieve expected competition among insurance companies. In fact, the opposite has occurred. In some states, there is only one insurer available to patients on their insurance marketplace.
- The inhumanity and complexity of the current system causes considerable stress for patients and health professionals, which negatively impacts quality of life for both. Many insurance companies provide poor customer service. Health professionals spend time with documentation and insurance claims that could be time spent on patient care.
- Improved Medicare for All is founded on Human Rights Principles:
- Universal – all people have access to the high quality comprehensive care they need.
- Equitable – care is equitably financed through progressive taxes as a public good; all barriers to receiving care are removed; care is free at the point of service.
- Accountable and Transparent – health care financing and administration are moved from the private to the public sector so that the public can: monitor quality coordination and outcomes; assure disparities to access are progressively eliminated; monitor efficient and effective use of finances and resources; and ensure costs are equitably shared by all people and businesses.
- Participatory – the public has an active role in the design, implementation, evaluation, and accountability of the health care system; and people are able to participate in making decisions that affect their health.
- Improved Medicare for All is the Solution:
Health care will be publicly financed through taxes, and it will easier for individuals to access by replacing the current multi-payer system with a single billing system. Simplified administration is estimated to save hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Further cost controls include giving hospitals global operating budgets and negotiating fair prices for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and health services. Businesses will reduce costs by no longer having to negotiate and offer costly health benefits or devote administrative staff to negotiating health care benefits.
All people residing in the US will be included. All medically necessary care is covered including vision, dental, mental health care, long-term care, substance abuse treatment, reproductive care, transgender care, alternative/complementary care, hospice care, durable and adaptive medical equipment, and hearing aids. Care is delivered through public or private (not investor-owned) health practices and facilities. All health facilities are in-network so patients have full choice of providers and treatments no matter where they travel in the US.
Improved Medicare for All eliminates the stress of looking for affordable coverage, or being uninsured and worrying whether necessary medicines and treatments are covered. It encourages health professionals to treat patients as people and health care as a right. Medical decisions will be made by health professionals and patients, (not insurance companies), restoring dignity to the patient-health professional relationship. Public policy will support population health and address the social determinants of care such as education, housing, employment, food security, environmental pollution, systemic racism and wealth inequality.
- Legislation: We urge Congress to immediately replace the Affordable Care Act with Improved Medicare for All modeled on House Resolution 676.