Public Citizen Statement on the Medicare for All Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Medicare for All Act of 2021 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, will be speaking today at a virtual town hall at 12 p.m. EST for the bill’s official introduction. Weissman released the following statement:

“After COVID-19, there is simply no excuse for the U.S. not to adopt Medicare for All and join all other rich countries by treating health care as a right.

“The overwhelming case for Medicare for All has long been clear. Medicare for All will end the cruel and needless rationing of health care that defines the current system. Rationing that keeps tens of millions of uninsured and underinsured people from seeking care. Rationing imposed by health insurers who deny care as a core part of their business model. Rationing that too often makes medicines available based on ability to pay, rather than need, leading 29% of Americans to report they do not fill prescriptions or take them as prescribed due to cost concerns.

“Medicare for All will put an end to all of this. It will establish, simply, that health care is a right and that all Americans have access to care. Regardless of ability to pay. Regardless of race or ethnicity. Regardless of whether they live in a city or rural area. Regardless of employment status.

“It’s not just about access. Medicare for All will improve health care quality. Every American would have better insurance – with broader coverage, including for long-term care – with an improved and expanded Medicare than they do now. Doctors and nurses would be freed to provide care rather than spend their time on billing. Medical equipment and facility investments would be based on need rather than corporate gamesmanship.

“Medicare for All will also be vastly more efficient than the current corporate-run system. It will save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating waste, marketing, bureaucracy, excessive executive compensation and profiteering.

“All of this has long been clear. What is different now is the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has underscored the cruelty and irrationality of our current health care system – and the urgency of replacing it with Medicare for All.

“Amid the worst acute public health crisis in generations, the current insurance system failed massively. Millions lost their health insurance and health insurer profits soared. Hospitals and providers, operating with just-in-time systems and investments oriented to expensive treatments rather than public health, were less well equipped to absorb the pandemic demands than they should have been.

“A health system that has long exhibited severe racial bias met a pandemic that viciously exacerbated racial inequality throughout society. The result was the shocking racial disparities of COVID-19, with Black, Hispanics and Native Americans dying at twice the rate of whites.

“A decent nation can no longer tolerate such injustice. The time for Medicare for All is now.

“Public Citizen thanks Reps. Debbie Dingell and Pramila Jayapal, as well as the other original co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act, for their leadership and determination in delivering health justice.”