GOP Has Change of Heart? Insurers Seek to Profit Under Pandemic; Economists Tout Savings; Rural Resolutions

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 at mstankiewicz@citizen.org or (202) 588-7779.

GREEDY INSURERS

Now a global pandemic, the spread of the coronavirus is escalating, and an incompetent White House and greedy health corporations are making things even worse. Public Citizen has called on President Donald Trump to resign over his handling of the crisis.

And last Wednesday, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the main health insurance lobbying group, made clear it has no intention of waiving copays, deductibles and other fees for coronavirus treatment.

“It’s outrageous that during the worst health crisis facing our country in decades, insurers want to make clear that they still plan to profit from the treatment of coronavirus victims,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “If costs are waived for tests, but not for treatment, people who test positive for the coronavirus may not be able to afford treatment and will continue to infect others.”

Medicare for All would eliminate all premiums, copays and deductibles, and would allow everyone – no matter their age, race, zip code or employment status – to go to the doctor of their choice and get treated before they spread illnesses to others.

GOP FINALLY INTERESTED IN FREE HEALTH CARE

As Capitol Hill and the White House continue to debate how to control the pandemic, Republicans, for once, seem open to ideas such as reimbursing hospitals for coronavirus testing and making such tests and treatment free for uninsured patients.

“In the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what’s your options?” said U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), who, along with his Republican colleagues, previously voted to take health care away from Americans.

In an opinion piece, New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo said that “Republicans’ interest in universal health care is ephemeral. Call it Medicare For All But Just For This One Disease.”

It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to get Republicans on board with fixing our health care system and recognizing that access to testing and treatment for diseases is a basic human right.

RURAL N.H. DEMANDS MEDICARE FOR ALL

In another sign that our profit-driven health care system isn’t working for rural America, two small New Hampshire towns, Grantham and Holderness, passed resolutions in support of Medicare for All last week by a majority vote of residents in each town. Since 2010, 120 rural hospitals in the U.S. have closed, and 453, or almost a quarter, are at risk of closing.

“Medicare for All would provide rural health providers better financial stability and better resources to treat their patients,” said St. Louis. “It also would save local governments money, as a large portion of small-town budgets is spent on pricy employee health plans provided by for-profit insurance corporations.”

Similar resolutions have been passed throughout the country, including in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Public Citizen is part of a coalition urging citizens to press their local governments to show support for Medicare for All by passing these resolutions.

REMINDER: ECONOMISTS SUPPORT MEDICARE FOR ALL

Economists have been saying for years that Medicare for All would lead to massive savings and reduce wasteful spending.

In a letter last week, 20 of the nation’s top economists argued that Medicare for All would be “considerably less expensive” than the current health care system and would cost less for most Americans.

More than 200 economists already have endorsed Medicare for All, which could “generate the biggest pay raise in a generation for American workers and help reduce income inequality.”

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.