Americans need single payer health coverage

Polls show that over 125 million adults in our country already favor full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital without stifling networks. I say “already” because, as of yet, there is no major national campaign underway showing that an “everybody in, nobody out” system of health insurance costs less, with better outcomes, is simpler, without maddeningly inscrutable or fraudulent  bills, co-pays, deductibles and additional trap doors set by a bunch of greedy corporations. The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely supported issue.

A super-majority of only 535 members of Congress — senators and representatives — can make that decision. A bill, H.R. 676, the “Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act,” is now supported by 121 House Democrats, which is two-thirds of all the Democrats in the House of Representatives. So that’s a good start.

H.R. 676 has been referred to several regular committees of the House whose chairs are all Republican corporatists. So there have been no public hearings. The bill, not surprisingly, is not moving at all.

Millions of Americans have had the bitter experience of denials of health care, staggering bills, pay-or-die drug prices and even loved ones dying because they couldn’t afford health insurance (about 35,000 a year, according to Harvard Medical School experts). So, in the next month, imagine what would happen if just 10 million of the 125 million who support full Medicare for all wrote, telephoned or emailed their two senators and representative demanding action and a written response by their lawmakers (who don’t pay postage).

Not to be confused with other lesser health insurance bills, mostly in the Senate, H.R. 676 is the real thing. It covers “all individuals in the U.S. with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, dental services, and vision care.” No more premiums, co-pays or gaping deductibles.

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Presently, all Canadians are covered at an average per capita cost half of what Americans, insured and uninsured, are having to spend for health care. The system proposed in H.R. 676 is similar to Canadian Medicare. It includes public funding and free choice of private delivery of health care. It also has provisions for better record keeping, prevention and quality control. There is even transition retraining for all those clerical and administrative jobs that would not be necessary after displacement of the present bloated, wasteful, redundant health care sub-economy.

What would happen to the giant health insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare? They would be prohibited from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits provided under H.R. 676. They could only sell benefits that are not deemed “medically necessary,” such as certain cosmetic surgery operations.

Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the 1940s! It is time.

So will the first 10 million Americans step up and be counted by sending messages directly to their senators and representatives in the month of April? The amount of time required to send a letter, an email or a telephone call is so brief that activated citizens could be called the modern “Minutemen” for universal health insurance. Just think of all the tasks you do every day that take far more time, like trying to figure out bills, denials, exclusions, from this basic human right.

Go to SinglePayerAction.org to get the details, the motivation and the groups with which to connect. The congressional telephone switchboard is 202-224-3121. Make sure to give your legislators your name and contacts; they’ll take the call or letter more seriously.


Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader grew up in Winsted and is a graduate of The Gilbert School. He is the founder of the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted.