The NC Medicare for All Coalition (NCM4A, www.ncm4a.com), comprised of dozens of NC-based non-profit and grassroots organizations that are dedicated to enacting real solutions to our nation’s healthcare crisis by advocating for Expanded and Improved Medicare For All, is compelled to comment on the inadequate recommendations released by the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on July 8. Among the many topics covered in this document is Achieving Universal, Affordable, Quality Health Care. Despite a promising heading - and recent false reports that the Democratic platform now includes Medicare for All, the Democratic Unity Task Force recommendations don’t address the insufficiencies of our health care system during this devastating pandemic, and they fail to offer universality, true affordability, or significant quality improvements. Furthermore, the recommendations are out of step with the wishes of the American people, who overwhelmingly support universal healthcare.
The NCM4A Coalition believes the Unity Task Force recommendations are a series of small incremental changes that don’t address the root cause of our healthcare system failures - namely, that fragmented, corporate-run healthcare, rife with administrative waste, is focused on shareholder profit rather than public health. Our current healthcare system is the most expensive in the world; yet even before this pandemic 87 million people were either uninsured or underinsured, meaning their high out-of-pocket costs kept them from accessing medical treatment.
Now, the US’s record number of coronavirus cases and deaths demonstrates the urgency of moving to a truly universal, publicly financed system, where all people are covered and protected. COVID-19 has also exposed the absurdity and systemic racism inherent in tying health insurance to “white collar” employment. From February to May, at least 5.4 million U.S. workers lost their jobs and employer-sponsored health coverage due to COVID-19. When factoring in dependents on those plans, Kaiser Family Foundation estimated a much higher total of 27 million people stripped of their health insurance in a two-month period this spring -- in the middle of a pandemic, when access to preventive, emergency and therapeutic health care is more critical than ever! In North Carolina, more than half of those who are uninsured are people of color while making up less than a third of the state’s population. Thirty percent of Latinx people in NC are living without health insurance.
The Task Force’s recommendation for helping these newly uninsured workers is to use public money to subsidize the most expensive private health insurance on the market - COBRA. Instead of this fiscally irresponsible idea, the Coalition urges the government to empower Medicare to cover all uninsured people at a fraction of the cost. Yet, this immediate solution to the health and economic impact of the pandemic, detailed in the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, is not mentioned in these recommendations, nor is the long-term solution for providing cost-effective, universal coverage: Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. According to dozens of economic studies, including one published in the Lancet, Improved Medicare for All would cost less than our current system over 10 years while covering everyone in the country, eliminating medical bankruptcy, and guaranteeing that people’s lives and savings aren’t destroyed when they become sick or injured.
As Dr. Elaine Greene, MPH, OBGYN, plainly stated at NCM4A’s Black Health Matters Roundtable (available in Spanish here): “Our current corporate, profit-driven system...is broken and in dire need of sweeping reform, and we see that even more clearly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Improved Medicare For All is the only truly single-payer, universal system that enables everyone to get the health care that they need, and if enacted could have a profound effect of reducing racial health care disparities.”
As we face this public health and economic crisis, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create an equitable, efficient, and fiscally responsible health care system that prioritizes and protects the health and well-being of all people in America during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The solution is not a piecemeal approach that serves only select groups, but Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.
- Action NC
- Apoyo NC
- Asheville DSA
- Center for Justice and Reconciliation
- The Coalition for Health Care of NC
- Down Home
- Duke SNaHP
- Health Care for All Western NC
- Health Care for All NC
- Health Care for All UNC
- Health Care Justice UNCC
- Health Care Justice NC
- Health Care for All Y'all
- League of Women Voters (LWV) of the Piedmont Triad
- Muslims for Social Justice
- Muslim Women For
- NARAL Pro Choice NC
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)-NC
- National Nurses United
- NC Alliance for Retired Americans
- NC Council of Churches
- NC Green Party
- NC Poor People's Campaign
- NC Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150
- Planned Parenthood South Atlantic
- Southern Anti Racism Network (SARN)
- Southern Workers Assembly
- Triangle DSA
- Winston-Salem DSA