Medicare for All: Fair, Frugal, and Inclusive

From Common Dreams:

by Johnathon Ross
Published on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 by

For 30 years I’ve been teaching young doctors how to practice primary care medicine at a center-city clinic in Toledo. Every day we witness heart-wrenching scenes right out of a Charles Dickens novel — scenes that illustrate the cruelty, arbitrariness and absurdity of our health care “system.”

Imagine for a moment a 64-year-old, low-income and uninsured man whose condition requires hospitalization and specialty care. Due to the likely cost of his treatment, he and his family could soon be facing bankruptcy. As if the physical suffering were not enough, he’s now grappling with a terrible financial crisis.

Right next to him is another patient with the same condition and of similarly modest means. However, because he’s 65 and enrolled in Medicare, he’s able to get dignified and relatively hassle-free care, without the worry of a financial shipwreck. He can go to the doctor and hospital of his choice, get treated and not face overwhelming medical bills.

Two patients, two very different stories — all because one person just happened to have been born a year earlier than the other.

Medicare, whose 46th anniversary will be observed July 30, has been a lifesaver for millions of elderly and severely disabled Americans. It’s been a major pillar of financial security for our nation’s families. And yet there are those in Congress today who would weaken or even dismantle it in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

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