Health Care is a Human Right

Plank on Medicare for All, People’s Platform

The health care plank is guided by the belief that healthcare is a human right, not a ‘for profit’ commodity.

  1. Need – The current 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 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 people 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. Those who cannot afford higher premiums are forced to buy plans with high out-of-pocket expenses, narrow provider networks, and limited access to specialists. In addition, 19 states have refused Medicaid expansion. The result of all these factors is that many people 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 quite the opposite has occurred. Insurers are dropping out of many markets, and in some regions there is only one insurer available to patients in their insurance marketplace.
  • The inhumanity and complexity of the current system cause considerable stress for patients and health professionals, which lower the quality of life for both. Many insurance companies provide poor customer service and institute billing procedures that increase the likelihood patients will lose coverage. Health professionals spend time with documentation and insurance claims that could be time spent on patient care.
  1. 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; barriers to receiving care are removed; and 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.
  1. Improved Medicare for All (a single-payer system) is the Solution:

Health care will be publicly financed through taxes and easier 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 setting operating budgets for service providers and negotiating fair prices for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and health services. Businesses will save by no longer having to offer expensive health benefits, and small businesses will find it easier to compete for the best employees.

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.  Health professionals will be freed to focus on the needs of their patients, restoring dignity to the patient-health professional relationship. Policy will support preventative care and public health related challenges such as systemic racism, wealth inequality, education, housing, employment, food security, and environmental pollution.

  1. Legislation: We urge Congress to immediately replace the Affordable Care Act

with Improved Medicare for All modeled on House Resolution 676 (HR 676).

Full Text of HR 676 can be found at:

Summary of HR 676:

This legislation will insure health care is provided to all individuals residing in the United States and its territories. All medically necessary care will be provided, including at least the following services: primary care and prevention, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long term care, palliative care, mental health, dental, substance abuse, chiropractic, vision, hearing services, and podiatric care. Patients will be required to make no payments at the point of receiving care. Provider institutions will be public or nonprofit. Patients will be free to choose physicians, clinicians, hospitals, and care facilities. Congress will appropriate monies to cover all program costs. Funding will be obtained from existing federal sources, personal income tax on the top 5% of earners, and progressive payroll and self-employment taxes. A National Board to monitor quality and access will be established. HR 676 will take effect 1 year following enactment of the legislation.

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As I mentioned in a previous comment, it would be great to see a brief commentary on how to expand and preserve the VA system, Native Health Service, and community health centers.

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Wondering if this can be edited down a little bit? Or can you provide a paraphrased version about half the size for reading at The People’s Convention as well as for printing in the program?

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