‘For-Profit Health Care Devalues Black Lives;’ Patients Charged Thousands for COVID-19 Tests; 1-in-2 Americans Fear Medical Bankruptcy

Public Citizen Has You Covered

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

‘FOR-PROFIT HEALTH CARE DEVALUES BLACK LIVES’

Medicare for All would be a major step forward in ending racial health disparities in the South, two city council members said in a Common Dreams opinion piece.

Jason Williams, president of the New Orleans City Council and Amelia Parker, a Knoxville City Council member, discussed how Black Americans and Hispanics have disproportionately higher rates of diseases, including COVID-19, lower access to care, and are more likely to forgo or skip medical care due to cost compared to whites. Knoxville and New Orleans have passed resolutions in support of Medicare for All in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this moment of reckoning on racism in so many aspects of society, we must take a stand against a for-profit health care system that too often devalues Black lives,” Williams and Parker said. “Medicare for All would not end racism in our health care system, but it is a necessary first step to address the racial health disparities that plague the South and our entire country.”

The opinion piece is available here.

MORE COVID-19 MEDICAL BILLS

Despite promises and reassurances from the federal government and major insurers, many COVID-19 patients are being charged exorbitant fees.

In New York, Kelly Daisley was charged $2,700 for out-of-network lab work for a COVID-19 test at an urgent care center. Zachary Sussman in Austin was charged almost $11,000 for a COVID-19 antibody test by Physicians Premier ER, and his insurer paid his provider the entire amount and without attempting to negotiate the bill.

Such stories have been common since the start of the pandemic and have led to accusations of profiteering by providers that charge patients and their insurers additional nonsense “facility,” “physician” and “observation” fees.

Medicare for All would crack down on profiteering by allowing the federal government to use its bargaining power to negotiate and drive down the cost of health services and reduce abusive overcharging.

POLL: HALF OF AMERICANS CONCERNED ABOUT MEDICAL BANKRUPTCY

About half of all U.S. adults are worried that a major health event in their household could lead to bankruptcy, according to a new West Health and Gallup poll.

The survey found that the number of respondents who said they were “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about such a catastrophic event had increased from 45% in 2019 to 50% in 2020. This number is even higher for nonwhite respondents (64% compared to 43% for whites.)

Meanwhile, right-wing groups and health care corporations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future continue to look the other way and claim this profit-driven system is working.

PUBLIC CITIZEN’S ADVOCACY AND RESOLUTIONS

Public Citizen has advocated for single-payer health care since our founding in 1971 and has worked for decades to end profiteering and waste in health care – whether from insurers, Big Pharma or hospitals.

Public Citizen is dedicated to building the grassroots movement we will need to win Medicare for All. Along with our 500,000 members and allies, Public Citizen works with local elected officials in cities, counties and towns from coast to coast to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All – most recently in Essex County, N.J. – and send a powerful signal to Congress that health care is a human right.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.