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Temporary & Tenuous Health System Boosts Don’t Cut it

Summary: The ACA is currently more generous and thus popular, but it’s time-limited. The “Build Back Better” bill proposes some incremental fixes, but they’re tenuous. Meantime individuals in medical and financial crisis resort to GoFundMe. Only in the US could the health care financing “system” so systematically fail.

If you haven’t already, see our Jan 1 post Single Payer Overview 2021 & 2022. Please email us with any further ideas to advance single payer in 2022, for an upcoming post.

On More Generous Terms, Obamacare Proves Newly Popular
The New York Times
Dec. 22, 2021
By Margot Sanger-Katz

A record number of Americans — 13.6 million — have signed up for health plans through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces for 2022. The major reasons for the rise appear to be: Congress lowered the cost of Obamacare insurance; the Biden administration increased advertising for the program; and the pandemic disrupted many Americans’ employer-provided coverage.

“What a great day it is to really see how the programs are working as they are intended,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters on a conference call.

But those gains may be fragile. The enhanced subsidies are scheduled to expire at the end of 2022.

Congress is on the brink of an immense health policy failure
Vox
Dec. 20, 2021
By Dylan Scott

Covid-19 exposed many of the flaws in the US health care system. Congress might not do anything to fix them.

Comment by: Don McCanne

Can we begin the new year by celebrating success in increased health plan enrollment through a temporary government program that expires at the end of the year?

We will still have tens of millions who are uninsured, even greater numbers who are underinsured due to excessive deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and lack of covered services; limited access due to narrow physician networks; high prices reflected in insurance premiums, cost sharing, and higher taxes; and profoundly excessive administrative costs and profits that are wasted on the medical-industrial complex rather than directed to patients, all resulting in the most expensive health care system in the world with one of the poorest performances of all modern nations. Is this really cause for celebration?

But what is making the health care news now? Proposals for minor tweaks to the Affordable Care Act, many of which are being rejected anyway. So what reform should we be supporting, and what is the opposition?

Shouldn’t we be supporting health care coverage for everyone? Shouldn’t the system be designed primarily to serve patients rather than private corporate interests? Who would be opposed to that, and why?

Shouldn’t the system be designed to be comprehensive so that it provides all reasonable health care needs? If not, why not?

Shouldn’t we increase the value of that coverage by reducing the administrative waste of the superfluous insurance intermediaries. Shouldn’t we use more efficient public administration such as with Medicare? Besides the insurance industry, who else would be opposed, and why?

Shouldn’t we use effective economic tools such as modern monetary theory and progressive taxes to publicly fund the system so that it would be equitable and affordable for each individual? Who would be opposed to that, and why?

Obviously, for the new year, if we want to fix our health care financing system so it works well for everyone, the Affordable Care Act won’t do it, and we need to replace it with a system that will. A single payer, improved version of Medicare that covers everyone is just what we would need to meet all of these requirements.

The problem is that people keep telling us that they are opposed, yet they haven’t explained why, at least in a manner that is satisfactory to us. Since the model would provide us with the changes that we need, they owe us an explanation as to precisely why they are opposed. Political rhetoric is not an explanation, not when you have millions with medical needs that are unmet merely because we have rejected a morally superior system based on health care justice that would take care of all of us.

On a personal note, my nephew has metastatic gastrointestinal cancer, and “Health insurance hasn’t been on his side,” so he is now on GoFundMe. I really need to hear a good explanation on why we should not have a system that works well for all of us, and GoFundMe isn’t it.

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