By Dan Heyman
As the GOP tries to resuscitate its plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, the debate over how to fix health care in the U.S. is heating up again.
Partisan divides remain deep, but according to Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, the failure of the American Health Care Act could present a unique opportunity for President Donald Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits by moving beyond for-profit models.
“America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system,” Pearson said. “It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right.”
Pearson said the Medicare for All Act – introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. – would provide immediate and comprehensive coverage to all Americans by expanding Medicare, the popular single-payer program already in place for people 65 and older.
Critics have said it would be too costly. But independent analysis of similar legislation found 95 percent of U.S. households would pay less than the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
Pearson, while not a fan of the ill-fated Republican proposal, noted that the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He said a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.
“There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance, there would be very small co-pays,” he said. “And so, nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill.”
Even though more people have health insurance since the ACA rollout, Pearson said, nearly two million Americans go bankrupt each year because of health care expenses.
A National Day of Action calling for universal health care is set for Saturday, April 8 – the first day of the congressional recess.