Improving America’s healthcare
After reading your 8/26 editorial regarding perceived difficulties and concerns (some valid, others really not) regarding the possibility of our nation’s moving to a single-payer/“Medicare-for-All” system at some point, it occurred to me that such public discussion concerning our nation’s healthcare system is a very good thing indeed given the various proposals now being offered by various Democratic candidates, the lack of any viable proposals by Republicans despite Mr.Trump’s promises of implementing a “fantastic” healthcare plan while working to further dismantle remaining “Obamacare” policies (including protections for those with pre-existing conditions), and the ongoing and pressing problems with our current profit-driven and fragmented healthcare system which affect us all.
It remains a national disgrace that we remain the only developed country in the world which does not provide some kind of universal healthcare to all of its citizens. Surely this should be a high-priority goal warranting a concerted and bipartisan effort to find a way to make this happen, and thus these issues desperately demand active and constructive thought and debate in order to find a workable way to do so.
Although the idea of quickly shifting to such a system is in many ways appealing, it does seem that such a sudden shift could be quite jarring and chaotic, and that this path may not be realistic given the current political realities at play paired with the many fears and concerns entailed, as noted in your editorial.
So what I am truly looking forward to hearing is a long-range plan (maybe 8 years, give or take?) wherein progressive steps toward universal healthcare are gradually phased in, as this would likely be a smoother and more acceptable way to go. For example, and just looking at the big picture: maybe a good first step would be to offer Medicare as a “public option,” as proposed by a number of Democratic candidates, with reasonable subsidies available (as is done in “Obamacare”) to help those in need to afford such coverage. Private insurers could offer supplemental and “advantage” programs to fill in the gaps, just as they do now.
Then, once “the dust settles” on this change, a good second step might be to lower the age for normal Medicare eligibility to 55, with private insurers again offering supplemental/advantage programs as usual.
A final third step could then be to expand to a truly universal single-payer Medicare-for-All system, with private insurers continuing to serve a major role by offering those supplemental and advantage programs.
Subsequently, perhaps the possibility of a truly comprehensive Medicare-for-All system could be considered, although absorbing private insurers into this system in a satisfactory manner would be a bit tricky, but not impossible.
In this way, problems arising could be addressed at each step before moving on to the next phase, with other adjustments being considered as things unfold – and even these early steps would serve to dramatically improve our current system, with each then building on the preceding ones.
Surely America, with the unmatched resourcefulness and ingenuity of her people, can figure out some way to provide universal healthcare to all of her citizens as do all other developed countries in the world, can’t she? I believe we can if we really commit to doing so. So let’s discuss and debate how to best do this in a constructive and collaborative manner, brainstorm possibilities, weigh the pros and cons entailed, and finally get this done together.
Dale E. Buonocore,