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To Celebrate Medicare We Should Expand it to All Americans

Yesterday marked the 49th Anniversary of Medicare, our nation’s first national health insurance program. Since its inception, Medicare has extended health coverage to nearly 50 million seniors and people with disabilities.

To celebrate, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) spoke passionately on the U.S. House floor, commemorating the anniversary of the beloved program and highlighting the benefits of extending Medicare to all Americans.

Rep. Conyers emphasized the huge cost savings (close to $600 billion in 2015) that would be achieved by expanding Medicare and curbing the wasteful spending inherent in the current for-profit, private insurance system used by those not eligible for Medicare or other government-financed programs

In presenting the case for the passage of H.R. 676, Rep. Conyers emphasized that a nationwide single-payer system built off Medicare is the best way to address the core challenges undermining our health care system.

I believe this too. Expanding Medicare for all Americans can relieve America from its health care burdens. I explain this in an op-ed I penned for CNN’s opinion page.

Rep. Conyers also made news last night by announcing that his Medicare-for-All bill, H.R. 676, picked up its 60th co-sponsor with the addition of U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass).

People are listening. 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 organized events all across the country to make their case for protecting and expanding Medicare.

Rep. Conyers’ closing remarks at the Capitol best summarize why more Americans and his U.S. House colleagues should get behind his proposal to guarantee universal health care coverage: “No one should suffer because a system prioritizes corporate profits over health.” We at Public Citizen agree and hope that America and our representatives in Congress will mark the July 30th anniversary not by just recognizing the benefits of Medicare, but also by seizing the opportunity to pass Medicare-for-All legislation.

Vijay Das is the healthcare policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.