Various proposals under consideration by the US Congress have been dubbed “Medicare-for–all.” They build on the successful and popular foundation of the Medicare program, which is now only available to legal residents and citizens of the US who are over 65. These legislative proposals would make tax-funded health care available that is medically necessary including primary care and prevention, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services and vision care. Like Medicare, patients would be able to choose from participating physicians and institutions.
US Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) introduced the measure H.R. 676 called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act” in the US House of Representatives in January. In an email sent Monday (April 3, 2017), US Senator and former presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), advised constituents and followers nationwide that, “… within a couple of weeks, I am going to be introducing legislation calling for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.” Both legislators have authored similar proposals in previous congressional sessions.
In his email Monday, Sanders also noted: “People who cannot afford health care don't deserve to die. We should not be spending far more, per capita, than any other nation for health care or be paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”
The program would be funded by taxes replacing insurance premiums. Funds from existing government sources for health care, increasing personal income taxes on the top five percent of income earners, a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, a tax on unearned income, and a transaction tax on stock and bond purchases. These taxes would be offset by the elimination of premium payments to health insurance companies. Health insurers would be prohibited from selling health insurance that duplicates benefits provided in the legislation. They may sell insurance for services that are not medically necessary.
The proposal would establish essentially a single-payer health insurance program very similar to Canada’s. Currently about one-third of what is spent on health care is for administrative expenses.
The US spends more on health care per person, and as a percentage of gross national product, than any industrialized country in the world. This legislation would create a universal health care system guaranteeing health care to all in the US.
“AIDS Healthcare Foundation strongly believes that until we make health care available to all we will still face enormous barriers in eliminating the AIDS epidemic. This legislation will build on the strength of Medicare that has 50-year successful track record. We look forward to working with the sponsors of these measures and their supporters in putting this bill on the President’s desk,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 712,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.