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Grateful West Virginians gathered in Shepherdstown to celebrate the 50th birthday of Medicare.

By Staff | Aug 7, 2015

Established in 1965, Medicare (along with Social Security), has been the foundation for health and financial well-being for Americans over 65. Medicare pays the greater part of medical bills for seniors and helps disabled people of all ages.

Medicare can be improved and made more cost-effective by expanding it to all Americans from birth to death. A bill before Congress, HR 676 (Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act), provides coverage of all medically necessary services and adds dental, vision and hearing services, as well as long-term care.

HR 676 (pnhp.org/hr676) repairs the major flaws in our present Medicare system.

Currently, Medicare covers only 80 percent of doctors’ bills under Part B. Patients need supplemental insurance to pay the 20 percent that Medicare doesn’t cover.

Under the complex and confusing Medicare Part D prescription coverage, patients are often left with a large part of the bill. Patients needing chemotherapy often face bankruptcy. By law, Medicare is forbidden to negotiate for lower prices from drug companies.

So-called Medicare Advantage plans are saddled with all the difficulties of private insurance, restricting patients’ choice of doctors and what medicines are covered. They divert dollars from medical care to paperwork, insurance executives’ bonuses, and lobbying, costing the taxpayers more. Arranging referrals and deciphering arbitrary formularies waste doctors’ time. Patients still pay deductibles and copays.

HR 676 will dispense with these problems and reduce costs. By eliminating private insurance companies, replacing private insurance premiums with a fair tax, and by extending Medicare to everyone, we will get privately provided, publicly funded care.

Cries of “don’t touch my Medicare” are common. When are there calls for its repeal? So why not extend it to all by replacing private insurance and its overhead with medical care? Help all Americans enjoy the benefit of improved Medicare by contacting congressional representative with the message: support HR 676.