Study Finds Higher Wages, More Jobs Under Medicare for All; Federal Failure in Coronavirus Response; The Consequences of Uninsured Children

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

President Donald Trump last week signed into law an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the coronavirus, but the U.S. health care system already has failed at handling the crisis.

Health care workers say they lack adequate protective gear, test kits have been slow to reach health care providers and people who have come forward to be tested have received bills as high as several thousand dollars that their insurers initially refused to pay.

A nurse who has been quarantined in California who has exposed to a coronavirus patient said she has been denied a test for the virus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I am currently sick and in quarantine after caring for a patient who tested positive,” the nurse said.  I’m awaiting ‘permission’ from the federal government to allow for my testing, even after my physician and county health professional ordered it.” The Trump administration has also spread misinformation that could put Americans at risk.

Medicare for All would ensure that all medically necessary vaccines and treatments are covered, which is vital to slowing the global spread of disease. “Our for-profit health care system creates enormous barriers for people to get tested and seek medical care if they are sick.” said Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign. “This puts the U.S. at a dangerous disadvantage to fight the spread of infectious diseases like the coronavirus.”

STUDY: HIGHER WAGES, MORE JOBS

Yet another study has found Medicare for All would benefit the American job market and working families.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute found that implementing the policy would “boost wages… increase job quality… support self-employment and small business development” and “produce a net increase in jobs.”

“Despite oft-repeated claims of large-scale job losses, a national program that would guarantee health insurance for every American would not profoundly affect the total number of jobs in the U.S. economy,” said economist Josh Bivens, who conducted the study. “In fact, such reform could boost wages and jobs and lead to more efficient labor markets that better match jobs and workers.”

Economists have long argued that Medicare for All would increase wages by eliminating health care premiums and thereby help reduce income inequality.

Read the study here.

CHILDREN WITHOUT INSURANCE

Early childhood health and wellness is vital to lifelong health, but it’s becoming out-of-reach for more American children.

According to The Washington Postthe percentage of uninsured children younger than six jumped from 3.8% in 2016 to 4.3% in 2018. Thirteen states had statistically significant increases in either the rate or number of young kids without insurance, and 11 states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia — had major increases in both. Also, children were more likely to be uninsured in states that did not expand Medicaid.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children go to the doctor at least 14 times within the first six years of their lives, during which they should receive speech, hearing and vision tests as well as health screenings and vaccines. Under Medicare for All, every child would be insured and able to receive these vital services with no out-of-pocket expenses.

REMINDER:

According to studies, finding psychiatric services for Americans with private insurance is nearly impossible.

In one study, researchers called 360 psychiatrists on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s in-network provider lists in three cities. Some of the phone numbers on the list were for fast-food locations and retail locations, and when some psychiatrists’ offices were reached, many of the doctors didn’t take BCBS insurance or weren’t taking new patients. Additionally, the researchers were unable to make appointments with 74% of providers on the lists.

Under Medicare for All, every mental health provider would be in network, removing a major hurdle for those who seek mental health services.

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.