House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, proposes to undermine the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, with an eye toward enriching the insurance companies that so generously fund his campaigns.
The American people are not amused. They have sent a clear signal that they want to maintain Medicare and Medicaid.
And rightly so. despite the battering they have taken from misguided and malignant policy makers, the Medicare and Medicaid programs still provide the rough outlines for a single-payer health care program that keep costs down while expanding access to prevention and treatment for millions of Americans.
So, instead of gutting Medicare, as Ryan proposes, why not expand on what works.
That’s what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing.
"The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as right to its people. Meanwhile, we spend about twice as much per capita on health care with worse results than others that spend far less," Sanders explained Tuesday, as he announced plans to introduce the American Health Security Act of 2011, would provide federal guidelines and strong minimum standards for states to administer single-payer health care programs. "It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all single-payer health coverage program."
Sanders’ plan is the right response to America’s health-care crisis — and any country where tens of millions of citizens lack health-care coverage, where tends of millions more lack adequate coverage and where costs are skyrocketing because of insurance-company profiteering has a crisis.
Don’t get the independent senator wrong. He voted for the health-care reform legislation that passed Congress last year and that was signed by President Obama. He even improved that legislation by fighting to include funding for public-health programs and community clinics.
But Sanders also recognizes flaws in the 2009 reform — which, reformers note, keeps the for-profit private health insurance industry at the center of the U.S. health system. And the senator argues that the ultimate cure for what ails American health care is a "Medicare for All" approach that ends the profiteering and focuses on prevention and treatment of disease.