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Medicare Anniversary Events Demonstrate the Need to Expand Medicare For Every American

July 30, 2014

Medicare Anniversary Events Demonstrate the Need to Expand Medicare For Every American

Medicare-For-All Would Ensure Universal Coverage and Address Health Disparities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocates, community leaders and policy experts convened today across the country to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Medicare, the widely popular national health insurance program. From coast to coast, activists organized actions to persuade their elected representatives in the U.S. Congress to protect, improve and expand Medicare for all Americans.

Medicare currently extends health coverage to almost 50 million seniors and people with disabilities. Advocates and leading experts marked the anniversary by demanding that these same benefits be extended to everyone – enabling a national single-payer health care system that guarantees universal coverage and a far more just and efficient system to deliver care in the United States.

“Currently, most people deal with an overly complex system that fails to provide the same benefits our seniors receive through Medicare,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “By expanding Medicare, we can create a sustainable health care system and ensure that all Americans can get the coverage they deserve.”

The aim of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to move the country toward universal coverage. However, even after the ACA is fully implemented, millions of vulnerable people will go without coverage, and tens of millions will remain underinsured, facing substantial deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.

A single-payer system achieves far greater savings than the ACA and frees businesses from their obligation to manage health plans for their workers. By expanding Medicare, we can reduce the large and inefficient role of the private insurance industry.

Vijay Das, health care advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, added “It’s unconscionable that in the richest nation on Earth, health disparities linger because ordinary people can’t obtain good care.” His op-ed, which was published today on CNN’s opinion page, states that by expanding Medicare we can achieve a much simpler and effective system in which: “All Americans can obtain quality care from any physician. And the government can simply reimburse any physician, provider, or company for that care, which is similar to how they do it in most wealthy nations.”

Organizations that participated in the day’s events included All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care-HR 676, the American Medical Student Association, Gray Panthers, Healthcare-NOW!, National Nurses United, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America and Public Citizen.

Activists organized community meetings, rallies and events in their hometowns and neighborhoods all across America. Groups also took to social media – using the hashtags #HBDMedicare and #singlepayer – to raise awareness and better mobilize support for H.R. 676 and H.R.1200/S. 1782, the Medicare-for-All bills introduced in Congress.

Later tonight on Capitol Hill, long time single-payer advocate U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) plans to lead other members of Congress to both commemorate Medicare’s anniversary and press his colleagues to increase its eligibility. On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, supporters of H.R. 676 will deliver comments on the immediate need to expand Medicare in order for the nation to be on a sustainable path to provide a basic level of health care for its citizens.

Support for a national single-payer health care system is continuing to pick up steam. Across the U.S. more than 58,000 committed Americans have signed petitions urging legislators to heed the call and implement a Medicare-for-All system.

Beyond Washington, lawmakers in Vermont are continuing plans to implement a single-payer health care system that guarantees universal coverage on behalf of its residents next year.