Medicare for All critic’s comparisons fail scrutiny

I am responding to the May 16 guest commentary, criticizing Medicare For All, published in which Sally C. Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute opposes the Medicare for All Act of 2021 (“Covid is refuting the case for Medicare for All,” The Herald, May 16.

I agree that the current health care system including Medicare and Medicaid are not ready for a two-year conversion without allowing for supplemental private plans. The economic impact of such a rapid and abrupt change is staggering. How will patient privacy be respected with a single system? A single-payer system is a laudable goal, but experts realize we can’t make an abrupt, immediate change.

Ms. Pipes weakens her whole presentation with her example of the Oregon Medicaid experiment by ignoring the “lower rates of depression, and reduce(d) financial strain” [New England Journal of Medicine] and other benefits.

She relates the shortcomings of the Canadian and United Kingdom systems. She fails to mention that they both spend about 11 percent of their gross domestic product on health care as compared to the U.S. which spends about 17 percent. Comparing the U.S. to the U.K. and Canada is like comparing a Tesla to a Nissan Leaf.

Supplemental policies create a two-tier health care system; further dividing the populations into haves and have-nots. Eventually the only equitable and sustainable system seems to be a single system that applies to everyone. The U.S. has chosen a health care system based on George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Gary McCaig


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