On Aug. 1, Medicare enters its 50th year providing medical care for millions of Americans.
As a person with a chronic medical condition, I am grateful to have Medicare. It makes me proud to live in a country that decided back in 1965 that all older Americans and some disabled persons should get the care they need.
I think we should take a further step and expand and improve Medicare to cover everyone from birth to death and eliminate private insurance from our health care system. Health insurance is not the same as health care.
Traditional Medicare pays for health care, requiring only about 1.5 percent to cover overhead expenses. Private insurance companies spend 12 to 20 percent of premiums on overhead, including high CEO and lobbyists' salaries, interference with provider decision-making, advertising and shareholder profits in some cases.
If we created a system of Improved Medicare for All, we could recoup savings of $400 billion annually in administrative waste. In addition, we could use the new system's bargaining power to rein in rising health costs.
Currently "The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act," H.R. 676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. is up for consideration in the US House of Representatives. For information go to www.pnhp.org/publications/united-states-national-health-care-act-hr-676, and ask candidates for Congress to support HR 676 so we can have health care for everyone. That's something of which we could all be proud.
To help achieve improved Medicare for all, contact our local group at Eastern Panhandle Single Payer Action Network (firstname.lastname@example.org).