Categorized | Pushback

Is Medicare For All Good For Everyone?

Bernie Sanders promoting Medicare For All

The Sanders Medicare for All Act would greatly reduce consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

By Al Norman

On July 25, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California, bluntly opposing the “Medicare for All” concept being championed by Senator Bernie Sanders.

President Trump nominated Verma to be the CMS Administrator for CMS, and the U.S. Senate confirmed her on a party-line vote of 55 to 43 in March of 2017. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts were among the 43 Democrats who voted against Verma.

Before becoming CMS Administrator, Verma was the CEO of SVC, a national health policy consulting company. According to her bio, Verma has “extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs in several states,” including Indiana, where she caught the eye of former Governor Mike Pence, now the Vice President.

“By the time we all go to bed tonight,” Verma told the Commonwealth Club,” approximately 1.3 million Americans in Medicare will have visited a doctor today, and five million claims worth $2 billion will be processed. And while these numbers are large, they pale in comparison to where we are headed.  CMS receives 10,000 new enrollments into Medicare every day, and we project that by 2030 the program will increase by one-third from 60 to 80 million beneficiaries — and spending per beneficiary will increase from $13,500 today, to almost $25,000 per year in 2030.

Study: ‘Medicare for all’ projected to cost $32.6 trillion

“Despite the burgeoning demand for Medicare services,” Verma continued, “the reality is the Medicare program is on a troubling trajectory, as decades of neglect by Congress and past administrations have allowed it to travel down a path that is unsustainable.”

Verma wants a healthcare system that “moves away from delivering volume of services to one that delivers value for patients — one that provides high quality accessible care, at the lowest cost.”

She said, “We will transform the individual patient into a consumer of healthcare — one that is empowered to shop for the provider that delivers the best care at the lowest price.” Verma believes that patients seeking care, will “seek providers that deliver innovative, transformative care. But in order for patients to become consumers of healthcare they must have transparency in pricing and in outcomes, so that they can shop for quality and value.”

Verma envisions a system that “enables our seniors to access and navigate the Medicare program more seamlessly and help them make the decisions that are best for them.” She says that “the patient owns their data and they must have access to their information. We’ve put our Medicare Advantage plans on notice that they too need to give beneficiaries access to their data in way that patients can use it.”

But any senior will tell you today that patient data and records are neither accessible nor understandable.

Verma ended her speech blasting the concept of Medicare for All. “Putting millions more Americans on Medicare will undermine health care for the very demographic the program is designed to assist,” she said. “Ideas like ‘Medicare for All’ would only serve to hurt and divert focus from seniors. All the while, expanding the regulatory burden and misaligned and perverse incentives of a government run system. In essence, Medicare for All would become Medicare for None.” Then she dropped the ‘S’ word: “By choosing a socialized system, you are giving the government complete control over the decisions pertaining to your care, or whether you receive care at all.  It would be the furthest thing from patient-centric care.”

Response from Sen. Sanders was swift. “Medicare is, by far, the most cost-effective, efficient and popular health care program in America. Medicare has worked extremely well for our nation’s seniors and will work equally well for all Americans.” The Sanders Medicare for All Act would greatly reduce consumers’ out-of-pocket costs, and establish a ‘national health budget,’ set payment rates for health care providers, negotiate prices to be paid for prescription drugs and establish lists of covered drugs. 70 Democrats in Congress have formed a Medicare for All Congressional Caucus and 120 House Democrats have signed on to such legislation. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, a leader of the Medicare for All Caucus, said the Trump administration seems “blind to the fact that a majority of Americans support expanding, not weakening, health care.” A single-payer health care system would be much simpler and could save hundreds of billions of dollars a year, Jayapal said.

The health care system that Secretary Verma sees is far from the reality that most Americans experience daily. They have no data, no power, and costly copayments. The system the Trump administration sees is one in which millions of Americans have no coverage or have plans that provide minimal benefits. If we don’t get Medicare for All, millions of Americans will have no care at all.

MASSACHUSETTS ALERT: Governor Charlie Baker has vetoed $4 million in rate increases for Elder Day Care programs and Adult Foster Care services. This “age unfriendly” action by the governor will stand, unless the State Legislature overrides his veto. Call your State Rep and Senator at 617-722-2000 and ask them to stop the Governor from denying rate increases for Adult Day Care and Adult Foster Care.

Al Norman worked as an advocate and lobbyist in the elder care system in Massachusetts for 38 years. He can be reached at alnormaneldercare@gmail.com

One Response to “Is Medicare For All Good For Everyone?”

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  1. […] for months has spoken out against the “Medicare-for-all” proposals pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a growing chorus of Democrats. But her 35-minute address to the meeting of the trade group […]


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