A better healthcare system would ensure insurance for all

Published 10:11 am Friday, May 19, 2023

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To the Editor:
As we already know, many citizens in Carter County are uninsured or underinsured for healthcare.  There is a Medicare for All Act that will be announced in the House of Representatives soon that will improve and expand the successful and popular Medicare program which many of us enjoy in our area.  If this bill succeeds in Congress, every person living in Carter County will have guaranteed access to healthcare with comprehensive benefits.
Some of us may wonder, “will I have to change doctors?” Patients will have complete freedom to choose doctors, hospitals, and other providers we wish to see, without worrying whether a provider is “in network”.  Another question we might ask is, “will I lose my dental, vision, and audiology services that I currently have with an Advantage plan or any other plan”?  The legislation includes coverage for all primary care, hospital, and outpatient services, dental, visual, audiology, maternity and newborn care, long term services and supports, prescription drugs, ambulatory services, telehealth, and more.  When our daughter was born, we were shocked to learn that she was not covered immediately while in the hospital for a day and a night.
Enrollment in Medicare for All would not require any private insurance premiums or deductibles.  We would not be charged any co-pays or other out-of-pocket costs for receiving care.  Additionally, we would all receive long-term services and supports through home and community-based services unless the individual chooses otherwise.  My husband is already eligible for long-term care at the VA, but my long-term care has been a concern of mine as it has been a concern for many of us who can’t afford insurance that would help with that issue.
But, you ask, “How will this service be paid for?”  The US healthcare system would be simplified by moving to a single payer model and reducing the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on the administration of the inefficient multi-payer system we currently have.  My friends who are retired physicians remind me frequently of the tremendous amount of time spent in dealing with multiple insurance companies which should be spent focusing on care of their patients.  What prevents healthcare corporations from overcharging for their services and profiting off our illnesses and injuries?  This behavior would be illegal according to the proposed legislation.  Of course, monitoring and enforcement are built into the bill.  Providers would be prevented from using payments from the program for profit, marketing, or federal campaign contributions.
This legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices to lower costs, and to issue compulsory licenses to allow generic production if a pharmaceutical company refuses to negotiate a reasonable price.
Transitioning over two years would help avoid chaos in our healthcare.  One year after enactment, persons over 55 and under 19 would be eligible, and two years after enactment, all people living in the US would be eligible.  Veterans would not lose their medical benefits and services through the VA.  This proposed bill is not socialized medicine because we continue to have choices of providers.  People in our country would not support a program that took away our choices.  Even the VA now has a system that allows choices in the community if services can not be offered in a timely manner by the VA.
This bill in the House of Representatives deserves careful attention and study by our legislator, Representative Harshbarger, if we are ever going to improve a healthcare system that is lacking in many ways.   It is not clear to me that incidents like the announcement by Ballad Health to close the intensive care unit at Sycamore Shoals Hospital on June 4th would be avoided with the passage of this bill, but perhaps more ways for our Carter County citizens to have input into such decisions would be an improvement to the system we currently have.
Norma Morrison

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