Medicare for All and tuition-free universities have been at the core of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns, creating a stark division between progressive candidates and their centrist counterparts. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed to make Medicare for All and public universities cost-free by taxing massive corporations and the super wealthy, and earlier this year, Sanders introduced legislation that would cancel student loan debt. His plan would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street, he says. It would also make public universities and community colleges free — a key pillar of Sanders’s 2020 education platform. These proposals are not radical ideas in Sweden, a country that has built one of the world’s most extensive social welfare systems. In Sweden, healthcare costs are largely subsided by the state. Daycare and preschool programs are mostly free. College and university are free. Public transportation is subsidized for many users. To explain how Sweden does it, we speak with Mikael Törnwall, Swedish author and journalist focusing on economic issues at Svenska Dagbladet, a Stockholm daily newspaper. His most recent book is titled “Who Should Pay for Welfare?”
With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Medicare for All a hot topic, we thought it would be worth refreshing everyone about all of Medicare for All’s benefits for seniors. Have a great holiday! –Nancy and the SSW team
The enactment of Medicare for seniors in 1965 was intended as just the first step to Medicare for All. But for years, corporate-funded propaganda has attempted to scare those who would benefit the most.
Right now, long-term care―at home or in a nursing home―is not covered by Medicare. And the cost of a semi-private room, food and housecleaning in a nursing home averages $225 a day, or $82,125 each year.
As a result, many seniors have no choice but to impoverish themselves until they can qualify for Medicaid.
Improved Medicare for All includes comprehensive long-term care coverage, including at-home services and supports, as well as nursing home care. This would be life-changing for tens of millions of seniors and their families, who would could live with dignity and still get the care they need.
The recently introduced Medicare for All Act of 2019 also includes vision, hearing and dental coverage. And the legislation eliminates every penny in premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
If Medicare for All were the law of the land, health care costs would no longer consume over 40% of the average Social Security benefit—effectively increasing benefits.
Improving Medicare’s benefits and expanding it to cover everyone will make the program stronger, more successful and more popular.
Right now, according to the most recent Trustees Report, Medicare spends just 1.1 penny of every dollar collected and spent on administrative costs. The other nearly 99 cents are spent on providing health care. In contrast, the administrative costs of private health insurance are generally more than 12%.
For-profit insurance corporations, big pharma and the other industries that profit off of our current wasteful health care system are terrified of Medicare for All. They will do everything they can to defeat it, including scaring those who are most dependent on health care and therefore have among the most to gain from Medicare for All. We are just beginning to see their campaign of fear.
Opponents of Medicare for All are seeking to scare older and younger Americans alike into opposition in spite of the fact that Medicare is significantly more efficient than commercial health insurance.
Adding everyone to Medicare would not only increase the size of the risk pool—it would reduce costs even more by adding healthier, younger beneficiaries to that risk pool, driving the per capita costs even lower.
Even conservative analyses show that Medicare for All will reduce what seniors and the rest of us pay currently.
Under improved Medicare for All, Americans will be able to choose whatever doctors and hospitals they prefer. They will be able to afford their medications. They will be able to get early treatment when medical problems arise.
We can make Medicare for All a reality, but only if millions of us mobilize to defeat the power of big money.
Right now, around one in three seniors aged 65 to 74 suffer from hearing loss. The number is nearly one in two for those aged 75 or older. However, three out of five of those over age 65 are untreated for their hearing loss.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Untreated dental problems can lead to malnutrition. And untreated gum disease can result in heart and lung disease. Improved Medicare for All covers these critical medical issues.
Let’s not let the fearmongers scare us from this better world. Together, let’s make high quality health care a human right for everyone in America.
Social Security Works
As Democrats prepare to take control of the House, pressure is growing on the Democratic leadership to embrace Medicare for All. Nearly 50 newly Democratic members of Congress campaigned for Medicare for All. In the last year, 123 incumbent House Democrats also co-sponsored Medicare for All legislation, double the number who supported a Medicare for All bill in the previous legislative session. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital companies are paying close attention. As the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, over the summer the groups formed a partnership to fight the growing support for expanding Medicare.
Full Bernie Sanders Speech on Economic Justice, Healthcare, Opposing Trump & Ending the War in Yemen
Hundreds of international progressive leaders have traveled to Burlington, Vermont for a gathering hosted by the Sanders Institute. Last night, former presidential candidate and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked the event off with a keynote speech on healthcare, raising the minimum wage and his bipartisan resolution to end military support for the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. He was introduced by Harvard professor Cornel West.
In healthcare news, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday she will co-sponsor a bill by Senator Bernie Sanders that would expand Medicare to include every American. The measure, which Sanders is expected to introduce later this month, would provide universal healthcare by lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to zero. Other Democratic senators, including California’s Kamala Harris and Montana’s Jon Tester, have said they might support the bill.
Meanwhile, proponents of a single-payer healthcare plan are organizing to urge Congress not only to stop the effort to repeal Obamacare, but to pass a bill that would guarantee Medicare for all. On Tuesday, former Vice President Al Gore became the latest prominent Democrat to speak in favor of single payer.
Al Gore: “The private sector has not shown any ability to provide a good, accessible, affordable healthcare for all. I believe, for example, we ought to have a single-payer healthcare plan.”
We’ll have more on the Republicans’ failed push on healthcare and the growing fight for single payer after headlines.
Single-payer healthcare is a healthcare system in which the state, financed by taxes, covers basic healthcare costs for all residents regardless of income, occupation, or health status. “Single-payer” describes the mechanism by which healthcare is paid for by a single public authority, not the type of delivery or for whom physicians work. In contrast, multi-payer healthcare uses a mixed public-private system.