Medicare for All Is Necessary to Address Racial Disparity in Health Care; 20 Million Turn to Crowdfunding; Corporate-Speak

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.

CORONAVIRUS

The Trump administration’s flailing response to the coronavirus epidemic illustrates the need both for investments in public health and to establish health care as a right for all Americans.

As Helaine Olen writes in a Washington Post column: “Medicare-for-all is usually presented as a moral argument: The United States is the richest country ever known; it is not right that we don’t guarantee access to easily affordable and accessible health care like every other First World country. But this situation is not simply immoral — it also leaves the United States at a major disadvantage when it comes to combating global pandemics.

“We don’t want people to be wondering whether they can afford to visit the doctor if they think they’ve got this contagious and possibly deadly disease.”

The point is underscored by reports that some Americans who have been tested and screened for the disease have been hit with medical bills as high as $3,500.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has refused to commit that a federally funded coronavirus vaccine would be affordable and accessible to all. “The government should commit to nonexclusive licensing of whatever vaccine is developed – so that it is available to any manufacturer that can produce a quality product – and insist all manufacturers commit to reasonable pricing,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

Medicare for All would ensure that all vaccines and treatments are covered, which is vital to slowing the global spread of disease.

8 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE TURNED TO CROWDFUNDING FOR MEDICAL BILLS

An astonishing eight million Americans have turned to crowdfunding, such as GoFundMe, to help pay for their medical bills, and about 12 million have started a campaign for someone else, according to a new survey by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. Additionally, about 50 million American have donated to such efforts, or about one in six Americans.

“GoFundMe is not health care coverage,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “It’s a travesty that millions of Americans have to beg from friends, family and strangers to get the care they need.”

Most GoFundMe campaigns fail to meet their fundraising goals.

The survey found that 60% of Americans believe the government has a responsibility to provide help when medical care is unaffordable. Medicare for All would cover every American and eliminate all out-of-pocket costs, ensuring that no one has to resort to GoFundMe and other desperate measures to get needed treatment.

CLEANING UP CORPORATE-SPEAK

As Medicare for All and other health care plans are discussed by members of the press and lawmakers, it’s important to weed out corporate spin.

Medicare for All would not “take away health insurance” from anyone. It will ensure everyone has health insurance – a guaranteed right to health care with coverage that is superior to what they have now.

Under Medicare for All, private insurance companies no longer would be necessary. That’s not a loss – unless you like hassles, surprise medical bills and illness because you can’t afford the procedure your insurance company denied coverage for.

Most people would be happy to trade the battles they have with their insurer for a system in which they simply can go to a doctor when they are sick and not worry about the bill, which would be paid for by an improved and expanded Medicare program.

ADDRESSING RACIAL DISPARITIES IN HEALTH CARE

At an event on Capitol Hill, Medicare for All co-sponsors and policy experts explained how the policy is vital to establishing racial equality.

“We have a burden of our health care system that does disproportionately affect black and brown folks … and poor communities,” U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said at the event Thursday, noting that African-Americans are three times more likely than whites to die in childbirth.

The event follows a letter in support of Medicare for All sent to Congress in July from 10 national organizations that represent people of color, including the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and United We Dream.

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.