Medicare Just Turned 53, and We Need to Turn to National Improved Medicare for All

Spirit of Jefferson August 1 2018
by Lynn Yellott

Spirit of Jefferson Editorial by Lynn YellottJuly 30 marked a special anniversary. When Medicare was born 53 years ago, there was a collective sigh of relief by people 65 and older who hadn’t been able to afford healthcare. Their loved ones sighed, too, as Medicare cards rolled out.

Imagine a photograph of everyone you care about. Imagine, regardless of age, they all are able to get the healthcare they need. Imagine, like you and everyone living in our country, we all receive a card for a vastly improved version of Medicare for all.

Having that card means no one worries about paying for healthcare – no worries about aging out of parents’ insurance, losing a job, or starting a business. When we became ill or injured, we don’t need to choose between paying for prescriptions, food, rent or medical bills.

We have freedom of choice. We go to any licensed health provider we choose. All medically-necessary care including dental, vision, and hearing is included. No supplemental insurance, copays, deductibles, caps, or provider network limitations. No private health insurance companies skimming off our healthcare dollars for executives’ exorbitant salaries, advertising, lobbying, stockholder dividends, and campaign contributions.

Don’t be fooled by the false alarms of “we can’t afford it.” All other countries with developed economies provide healthcare to all residents, with better outcomes and less expense.

With our new card, 95% of us will pay less in the new taxes that will replace premiums, copays, deductibles, and prescription costs. How? By eliminating the high overhead of private insurance (15-20% vs the 2-3% of Medicare) and by one payer negotiating fees with providers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. We are not talking about a government takeover. We are talking about public payment to private providers.

A recent poll indicates nearly 60% of Americans support improved Medicare for all. We need to demonstrate to elected officials that the political will exists. Celebrate Medicare’s birthday by urging your Representative in the US House to sign on to HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All that has 122 cosponsors. Urge US Senators to join the 16 cosponsors of S. 1804, Medicare for All. Tell candidates you want national improved Medicare for all.

For more information, see the website of the Eastern Panhandle Single-Payer Action Network,, and be sure to mark your calendar for the September 13 6:30 PM film, Fix It, at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the campus of Shepherd University.

There is no perfect system, but national improved Medicare for all is the solution that vastly reduces the waste generated by private insurance. (What service or medical care does health insurance actually provide?) Everyone is one risk pool, so the high costs incurred by the very ill are spread among all of us through a fair tax. Since there is one system, and since all politicians will be in it, they will have an incentive to make it work! The income and wealth disparity plaguing our nation fuels the dangerous polarization we are experiencing, and improved Medicare for all provides an avenue to reducing that disparity.

We will have even more to celebrate when everyone living in our country gets a National Improved Medicare for All card.