Counterpoint to Christian Schneider’s slam on universal single payer health care

For those of you in the Milwaukee area you are probably familiar with the twice weekly opinion columns that Christian Schneider writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mr. Schneider is solidly of the conservative persuasion and effectively toes the company line…most of the time…he’s not a big fan of the president. In the Sunday August 19th edition of the paper, Mr. Schneider trotted out the right’s opposition to universal single payer health care and the term Medicare for All that is being applied to it. As he so often does, Mr. Schneider trotted out a number of statistics to support his point, but out of context they don’t always exemplify the truth.

Now, I will agree on one of his points. Medicare for All is a catchy title but it doesn’t actually describe the health insurance programs we need…nor those actually being suggested by Senator Bernie Sanders and others. But we’ve discussed that here before.

but lets look at some of Mr. Schneider’s statements:

When you think about it, “Medicare for All” is a pretty ingenious new name for the same old single-payer health care gambit. It borrows the name of a well-liked federal program and promises it to everyone in America. But it’s just a different name for full governmental control of health care in the U.S.

As stated above, Medicare for All doesn’t describe where we need to be in paying for healthcare. But to suggest that it will result in full government control of healthcare is ludicrous. The actual current implementation of Medicare is anything but that…but as Mr. Schneider points out…it is well liked! Nothing will change other than making sure every American has affordable healthcare finally. (and of course the GOP knows something about ingenious names…mislabeling any number of their bills with benign or positive sounding names that are actually the opposite of the bills intent)

Sanders’ bill makes some preposterous proposals to keep costs in check, such as slashing payments to health care providers by 40% — a cut that would almost certainly put hospitals and doctors out of business and erode the quality of care for all Americans.

I don’t know exactly where he’s going with this…apparently he has never gotten sick or someone else handles his finances for him. But have you ever looked carefully at your bills and insurance statements? Have you noticed that your doctor charges $500 for procedure A but the insurance company had a negotiated price of $238? And labtest 1 was $98 but the insurance company rate is $31? Insurance companies and doctors and hospitals play these numbers games all day long…under a single payer…there should be better transparency around actual health care costs…and providers can get paid what they should…and payers can pay the true value of health care…and bills are submitted for an actual effective number.

I don’t see this being a sticking point…scare tactics aside.

One recent study puts the total tab for Sanders’ bill at an exorbitant $32 trillion between 2022-2031, a bill that taxpayers would have to pick up, and which Sanders has no plan to fully fund.

I will agree that someone has to put together a way to fund this. But to pretend that this is NEW spending is ridiculous. Health care costs from 2022 – 2031 will still be $32 trillion whether we get single payer or not. The difference being…instead of taxing individuals and businesses and government entities to cover the costs…costs shared across the entire population…those costs will fall squarely on the shoulders of those who get sick. The costs of health care will essentially be the same…disastrously…they will just be invisible.

…77 million Americans currently on Medicare pay no premium…

I am going to ask for some help from our tax or health care wonks. Is this number accurate? And if it is what is the level of Medicare coverage being provided? Plan A is free but it covers diddly…as far as I can tell…simply catastrophic illness. Plan B costs @ $130 per month…and any supplements can cost hundreds of dollars more. Is Medicare subsidized for those who can’t afford Plan B or are there millions of Americans relying on Plan A only??

And apparently Mr. Schneider thinks America is stupid…not Americans…but America. We are about the only industrialized nation without some form of universal health care. He doesn’t think we can pull it off? We have hundreds of examples to review and best of breed practices to select from. We should be able to put together the best example of healthcare in the world.

I support a comprehensive universal single payer program…we need to reach that goal soon to improve the lives of all Americans and the American economic environment.


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