Why we need Medicare for All

Original art by Jordan Frazier.

Since the 2015 Democratic presidential primaries, there have been debates sparked around the United States over the need for Medicare For All. Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020, made Medicare For All a top policy in his platform. He rivaled more moderate candidates like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden on healthcare, with the moderates wanting a private and public option. 

I see Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal as something that we’ve needed for decades, and many prominent Democrats would agree. In the 1970’s Jimmy Carter advocated for Medicare for all as his ultimate goal but ended up backing out due to him wanting to put fiscal responsibility first. Since the 90’s, Hillary Clinton was interested in Medicare for all before she changed her position during her 2016 run. I see the common link between politicians changing their positions with the rise of pharmaceutical companies donating to politicians to change their views in favor of private healthcare options. We need to elect politicians who take no money from pharmaceutical companies before we can get any meaningful legislation passed. 

I have many reasons as to why I support Medicare for All. One of them is because the people support it. 70% of Americans support single payer healthcare, with 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans supporting it. Medicare for All has been branded as a radical idea by some, but outside of Congress, it’s a widely agreed upon policy. It’s not surprising that it is bipartisan considering that in 2020, 8.6% of Americans were left uninsured. People living in America, which is the richest country in the world, shouldn’t have to worry about getting basic medical coverage. What type of message are we sending as a country to ourselves, and the world, when much poorer countries have healthcare as a human right? We’ve sanctioned Cuba, trying to keep them underdeveloped, yet even they have free healthcare at the point of service for all citizens. 

A study done by Yale in 2020 shows that Medicare for All would save 68,000 lives.  The whole purpose of a healthcare system is to save and protect lives, and Medicare for All would do just that. In America, 40% of people skipped a medical test or treatment, and 44% didn’t go to the hospital because of the cost. It’s unreasonable to look at this as a functional system when the main problem with getting the treatment you need is the price tag. America has the unrealistic mentality of picking yourself up by your bootstraps which is dangerous when it comes to life or death medical treatment. 

What type of message are we sending as a country to ourselves, and the world, when much poorer countries have healthcare as a human right?

Medicare for All has its skeptics, and we should still understand some of their arguments. The skeptics are correct when they say that Medicare for All will be expensive. Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges that this will be an expensive policy, but citing the same Yale University study from earlier, over 10 years, average people will save $5 trillion by cutting our costs from $52 trillion to $47 trillion. Bernie Sanders had proposed paying for Medicare by taxing the top 1% and raising the marginal tax rate to 52% for people making $10 million or more. This is an important fact to point out because it will help people sympathize with the payment policy due to the wealthy getting taxed instead of regular working class Americans. 

Medicare for All as of now sadly looks like a goal that won’t be accomplished for a while. California’s attempt at bringing free healthcare to the state failed before they were even able to have a vote on it. President Joe Biden can’t even get his moderate public option healthcare plan passed. We have to elect pro Medicare for All candidates and continue to apply public pressure on politicians who oppose it. 

Ryan Adams is a junior at Washington High School. He grew up across the Bay Area spending time in San Pablo, Castro Valley, and Fremont, but he’s spent most of his childhood in Fremont. This will be his first year at the Hatchet newspaper. Journalistically he’s interested in covering sports, and he spends his free time playing football for the Washington High School football team, playing video games, and watching television just to name a few. His future plans are to maybe go to Ohlone College after high school, and figure out a plan from there.

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