Saturday, 23 March 2019

Behind Trump’s Attack on Medicare for All – a Fear of Losing Political Power

When you’ve lost the fact checkers at virtually every mainstream media you can tell your rhetoric and made up stories are not going over well with anyone but your most loyal followers.

That apparently has not bothered President Trump who thinks the idea of dismissing guaranteed healthcare and eliminating the escalating health insecurity for American families is an effective campaign tool for riling up his base.

In the wake of his wildly dishonest op ed attack on Medicare for all in USA Today October 10, Trump is continuing to trumpet his fact challenged diatribes on the campaign trail, blubbering in a campaign rally in Kentucky over the weekend “by the way, it doesn’t work anywhere in the world.”

Except that some form of a national approach to health care works better in pretty much every developed country than our does ours. 

While the U.S. spends far more than anyone else on health care per capita, we fall far behind other wealthy countries in numerous other barometers where it counts most – such as life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, and deaths from preventable disease.

Most revealing in Trump’s campaign invective and universally rebuked op ed are not the fabrications littering nearly every word, but the motivation behind it – the fear of those in the White House and the current majority in Congress that widespread public despair over the back-breaking costs and inequities of the present health care system are threatening their hold on political power. 

Simply put, our system that treats health care as a commodity not a human right is rapidly unravelling, undermining the very premise of a market-based ideology that prioritizes private profit over patient suffering, health care security, and public health.

Simply put, our system that treats health care as a commodity not a human right is rapidly unravelling, undermining the very premise of a market-based ideology that prioritizes private profit over patient suffering, health care security, and public health.

That erosion of support is also causing alarm in the board rooms of health care corporations who are also major donors to the politicians trying to hold off the tsunami of demand for change.

Facts can be inconvenient things. Consider a few of the falsehoods spelled out, for example, in the Trump op-ed:

I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions.

From an administration, that, as NBC  fact checkers noted,  “is backing a Republican-led lawsuit that argues Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions are illegal.” Additionally, the short-term junk insurance plans the Administration just green lighted for states to allow permits insurers to charge much higher costs for people with pre-existing conditions or exclude them from buying plans at all.

Medicare for all “would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”

That’s been a favored rightwing talking point for some time, including by some corporate friendly Democrats who also oppose Medicare for all (including several top Democrats who last year blocked a California single payer bill, SB 562).

But it is ludicrous, as even the Washington Post fact checker dismissed, noting the Medicare for all bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (and others) would: “improve Medicare for seniors and the disabled by eliminating deductibles (as well as premiums and other out of pocket costs) and covering dental, vision and hearing aids, which are not covered under current law.”

Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors.

Real patient choice is one of the hallmarks of a Medicare for all system – one card, good everywhere. Not only will seniors have full patient choice, but everyone will, in stark contrast to the crushing narrow insurance networks in the present system that routinely exclude wide swaths of hospitals, medical groups, and other choices, including those that offer specialized care for critical needs such as prominent cancer centers.

To make matters worse, you can even be in a network hospital, and get surprise medical bills from doctors or other providers who show up when you are in the hospital, a growing abuse that is saddling patients with thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, in unexpected bills.

There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures.

Want to see really hideous wait times? Try the U.S.A 2017 physician survey found wait times soaring 30 percent in major U.S. cities. Many countries with universal systems, such as proposed in Medicare for all, have shorter wait times than the U.S.

Previously covered care would effectively be denied.

Again, seriously out of touch with the present system in which insurers routinely deny claims for needed care they don’t want to pay for under pretexts that it is “experimental” or “medically unnecessary.”

From 2002-2010, California’s seven largest insurers denied 26 percent of all claims, according to data the state required them to report, until the California Nurses Association published the data and insurers persuaded the state to stop collecting it. Still, other indicators in California and other states, along with numerous media horror stories, document that little has changed.

Medicare for all “would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.”

NPR fact checkers handled this one nicely: “as Business Insider reports, that would actually be a discount compared to the nation’s current health care bill. Trump’s figure was calculated by the libertarian Mercatus Center, but he fails to note that total health care spending under Medicare for All would be about $2 trillion less over the decade than currently projected. The federal government would pay more, but Americans on the whole would pay less.”

Individual and family costs for medical care and insurance coverage are exploding, and tens of millions of people are having to choose whether to pay for needed care or their housing, heating, or other basic needs. 

Medicare for all is now supported by 70 percent of Americans, and thousands of activists are campaigning for it across the country, which terrifies those trying to squash it who are resorting to outrageous mistruths and callous indifference to the pain and suffering of countless patients and families today.



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