Medicare For All: Now or Never?
P. Anthony Farruggio
February 24, 2004

Send this page to a friend! (click here)



Forget all the rhetoric, all the logic of the argument. The bottom line is that this current private healthcare " non system" is beyond repair- its dead in the water. It does not work and is literally ' killing" millions of Americans with its negligence and stupidity. The time has come for a better and more practical way to insure the health of all of our citizens  My proposal is not without flaws, yet generally a huge step in the right direction- something to build on.

We all can look up the figures, check the files etc. If we simply reinstated the Estate tax and rolled back the Bush tax cuts ( which he himself remarked, according to Paul O'Neill, former Treasury Secretary, were "for the rich") the federal government would have the funds to extend Medicare to all Americans. Under this plan, working folks and businesses would contribute into the fund as presently occurs with FICA ( payroll taxes). Not only would there be enough "in the pot" to cover all Americans, but the better umbrella of Medicaid could merge with Medicare. Think of the comprehensive and improved services possible if that happened. All in all, with a small co-pay to discourage frivolous use of doctor visits, medical security would be a reality.

Under my Medicare For All system, the doctor gets a break as well. With  Uncle Sam as the insurer, the physician would pay the government all malpractice premiums, at a beginning rate of 50% of his or her current bill. As long as the doctor has no judgments, the rate may actually go down  for each year of  satisfactory services rendered. In regard to medical schooling, it seems foolish, from a business perspective, to " load up" a medical student with close to $ 200k in loans. By the time the physician obtains a license and a shingle, he or she is up to the eyeballs in debt. Is that why  many begin to look at this " healing vocation" as a business and not a practice?

If the government was able to shop for the best deals on pharmaceuticals, we wouldn't be paying outrageous prices for medicines. If the market was truly open to fair competition, generic drugs would be allowed into the mix at a greater rate, reducing prices .Under Medicare For All, the people would demand, not ask , for such accommodations. Our government has, for decades, helped the drug companies through subsidizing R& D ( research and development) which translates into greater profits. The " wheel" has turned now, and they " owe" us, the consumers.

Current statistics reveal that private insurance companies spend 11.7 cents of every health care dollar on administrative costs (mainly advertising and underwriting), compared with 3.6 cents for Medicare and 1.3 for Canada's government- run system. Think of the savings that a non profit health system could save we taxpayers, just in overhead.

When you extend healthcare in a mammoth manner, fraud and corruption will occur. There is a way to cut down on it through decentralizing the claims process. Rather than the millions of claims each day going to centralized locations, why not have municipalities handle the intake? A whole new localized employment system, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, would occur. How about having local claims offices staffed mostly by former private insurance workers and  students from the medical arts? Nursing students and  medical administration  students, to name a few, would work these offices as part of their schooling. They would be paid and receive course credits for their efforts. By localizing the intake of claims, more " red flagging" would be accomplished. This, along with higher penalties for fraud , would send strong signals before the fact, not just after.

Adequate healthcare for all  should be a human right, not just a privilege. Medicare For All must occur- the health for our nation and our economy is at stake.

P. Anthony Farruggio is the founder of FAER (Florida Association for Economic Reform).  This Brooklyn NY born, bred and educated (Brooklyn College '74) son of a longshoreman, has had over 35 columns posted on progressive sites and newspapers since the 2000 election, including NewsInsider.org and Counterpunch.org.  He can be reached at PAnthonyF@aol.com.

Other Articles by Philip Anthony Farruggio

* The Cleaning Lady

* Circuses and Sleeping Giants
Judgment At Bushemberg







FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com