The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
June 24, 2016
Medicare, an effective program that needs expansion
By Jack Bernard
I have been amazed at the number of negative Medicare-for-all attack pieces printed in various respected papers over the last few months, making me wonder why primarily liberal economists would be attacking a program that progressives have been trying to enact since Truman.
The underlying implication is that the current private system is more effective than a federal government run single-payer model. As a Republican former elected official with a very conservative spending record, I too believe in eliminating governmental waste and in utilizing the private sector when it is more effective.
Therefore, my record makes some citizens surprised when I advocate for Medicare for all. Objectively, the U.S. healthcare system is and has been severely broken. Despite our spending far more per capita, our country is far behind all developed democracies, which scoff when our politicians make the false claim that we have the best healthcare in the world.
Taxpayers are beginning to see the benefits of single-payer versus the ACA. In May, Gallup reported that "58 percent of U.S. adults favor the idea of replacing the law with a federally funded healthcare system that provides insurance for all Americans."
For the most part, it can be funded in much the same way as Social Security, through a payroll tax, with additional funding coming from a variety of other sources. More detail on this subject can be found on the Physicians for a National Health Program website (www.pnhp.org).
But Republicans just continue to repeat their worn-out talking points about our current system being perfect — so long as we repeal the ACA. The Democrat front-runner is little better, supporting the ACA but having no clear plan to cover the 27 million Americans still without coverage or the millions more with inadequate insurance.
Given that special interest groups are making billions from our broken system, and contributing heavily to both parties to keep health insurance private, the real question is "will politicians in both parties ever have the courage to act?"
Jack Bernard, the first director of health planning for Georgia, has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he's a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.
Comment by Don McCanne
The original intent of the architects oƒ Medicare was to eventually expand the program to cover everyone. Yet the Republicans have been reluctant to do so, and now the Democrats have specifically excluded it from their party platform. The leadership of both parties need to listen to conservative Republican Jack Bernard, an expert in our health care system. His full article is available at the link above.