Insurers Caught Red-Handed; Skipping COVID-19 Treatment; Medicare Crisis Proposal; Nearly 70% Support Medicare for All

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.

MEDICARE CRISIS PROPOSAL

Lawmakers and activists are pushing for temporary federal health care expansion to help stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the Medicare Crisis Program Proposal, which would expand Medicare to Americans who lose their jobs due to the pandemic. It also would expand Medicaid eligibility.

“We would have none of these problems if we had a Medicare for All system, but for right now, we need an immediate solution,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “At the very least, everybody must be guaranteed health care amid a national health emergency, without fear of facing bankruptcy or unmanageable bills.”

ONE IN SEVEN WOULD SKIP COVID-19 TREATMENT

Millions of Americans would skip treatment for coronavirus symptoms due the cost of health care, a new survey from Gallup and West Health finds.

Fourteen percent of Americans admitted they would avoid treatment for a fever and a dry cough, and 9% would avoid treatment even if they thought they were infected with the coronavirus.

Medicare for All would guarantee health care for every American and eliminate all out-of-pocket costs, ensuring that no Americans would have to avoid treatment due to the cost.

PROFITING INSURERS BEG CONGRESS FOR MONEY

Health insurance corporations are bragging about their profits while at the same time begging Congress for relief funds.

Cigna and UnitedHealth Group Inc. have reported strong first-quarter earnings in the past weeks,  and Cigna said it did not see the pandemic “having a material financial impact” on the corporation. Centene also said it expects the rise in unemployment to boost Medicaid and Obamacare enrollment in the coming months and increase its revenue by $4 billion.

However, America’s Health Insurance Plans, a health insurance lobbying group of which Cigna and Centene are members, is begging Congress for relief. In a letter to congressional leadership, AHIP said insurers “are bracing for an extraordinary increase in costs related to treating patients with COVID-19 infections” and asked for government subsidies and funding for relief programs.

Hmmm….

MORE POLLING 

While Medicare for All has always enjoyed high approval among the U.S. electorate, its popularity is continuing to climb as the coronavirus pandemic cruelly highlights the flaws of the profit-drive health care system.

A recent poll by The Hill and HarrisX found voter support for policy at 69%, including 88% of Democrats, 68% of Independents and 46% of Republicans.

Additionally, a Newsy/Ipsos poll found that about half of respondents said the pandemic made them more likely to support Medicare for All.

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.