By Geri Katz
MNA Healthcare Reform Specialist
Single payer (aka Medicare for All or guaranteed healthcare) is so hot right now.
Bernie Sanders raised the profile in the 2016 campaign; then Trump and GOP proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act pushed even more people to the conclusion that healthcare is a basic need for all Americans.
The term “single payer” isn’t very descriptive, and it leaves room for a lot of confusion. Minnesota Senator John Marty says it best, “when someone asks you what kind of new car you bought, you don’t answer “dealer financed!”
So let’s define it: guaranteed healthcare (not insurance) for every American, including dental and vision. Everyone pays their fair share, which for most Americans will be less than they’re currently paying. Making the system simpler for patients and providers will save money and let people focus on their health instead of their bills.
Public opinion polls consistently show growing support for single payer. (Here’s one from the Business Insider, a moderate financial website). Support among elected officials is growing too, with record numbers of co-authors signing on to federal Medicare for All Bills.
This is good news for those of us who want patients to get the care they need and not go broke in the process. But we’re not at the finish line yet, and there’s a new hurdle to watch out for: imitators. There are lots of politicians using the language of the healthcare for all movement to describe proposals that don’t cover everyone, don’t take the profit motive out of healthcare, and don’t save money.
As we move into an election season, lots of candidates will be seeking your support. Ask them how they would fix the healthcare system. Will their plan cover everyone? Will it save money? Will it put patient care first instead of profits? Ask lots of questions and beware of people who use buzzwords like “universal” and “access” but don’t really have a plan that will guarantee care for everyone who needs it.
In Minnesota, the gold standard is the Minnesota Health Plan. MNA’s endorsed candidate for Governor, Erin Murphy, RN, is the only major party candidate to endorse the Minnesota Health Plan. There are two leading Single Payer bills at the federal level: Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison recently became the chief author of HR676, and Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced S.1804.
If this issue is important to you, ask the candidates who ask for your support: do you support the Minnesota Health Plan or Medicare for All? Accept no substitutes that don’t guarantee healthcare for all.