New Orleans Backs Medicare for All; Loopholes Riddle Health Insurers’ Coronavirus Benefits; 33 Million Unemployed; ACA Dismantlement Continues

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.

NEW ORLEANS DEMANDS MEDICARE FOR ALL

As poll numbers for Medicare for All continue to tick up amid the coronavirus, more local governments are signaling their support for a guaranteed health care system.

The New Orleans City Council last week unanimously approved a resolution in support of the federal Medicare for All Act of 2019, as well the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, which would guarantee all residents full coverage for medically necessary health care without any out-of-pocket costs from now until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available to the public. Almost 30% of Louisiana residents have unpaid medical debt, and the state suffers from some of the worst racial health disparities in the nation.

“The New Orleans City Council sent a powerful message to Congress, reflecting the critical need for guaranteed health care for all to ensure that no one goes without care, especially during this pandemic,” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign.

“I think if there was ever a time when the entire country realized the need for taking care of everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status, this is it,” said New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams. “We need to push from every council office in every city in the country until we get it done.”

Similar resolutions have been passed in other major cities, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco.

HEALTH INSURERS’ FREE CARE IS NOT SO GENEROUS

While some insurers are offering free care for coronavirus patients, their promises are confusing or contain potential loopholes that could leave patients with massive bills.

A new report by Public Citizen analyzed the coronavirus policies of the 25 largest health insurers and found most free care waivers have rapidly approaching end dates and/or do not clearly cover out-of-network care. Americans in self-insured plans may encounter even more difficulties because their employers must opt to offer these waivers. About 60% of Americans who receive health insurance through an employer are in self-insured plans.

Americans deserve better than these premature end dates and arbitrary loopholes. The most sensible way to untangle the thicket of our health care system, protect Americans from crushing costs, and create a healthier and more productive society is to implement Medicare for All.

33 MILLION

A record 33 million people have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic started, spiking the national unemployment rate to 14.7%. Because in the U.S., health care is tied to employment, millions have lost their coverage when they need it most.

Public Citizen has launched a petition to demand Congress immediately and automatically enroll in Medicare any American who becomes unemployed during the pandemic. Public Citizen also supports the Medicare Crisis Program, introduced by U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), which would do just that.

But that is just a start. Before the pandemic, 87 million people were uninsured or underinsured. Medicare should be expanded to every American so coverage is no longer tied to employment and everyone can receive the care they need.

REMINDER: TRUMP (STILL) WANTS TO DISMANTLE THE ACA

As millions of Americans lose their jobs and tens of thousands die, the Trump administration is continuing its crusade to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which would leave millions more uncovered amid a pandemic.

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.