If there was ever an instance which proved my point that presidential candidates should not be judged by 60 second responses to questions it was the discussion at this week’s debates of the pros and cons of “Medicare for All. (MFA)” This is not to say, candidates in favor of expanding the seniors’ program to the general population should have a better “elevator pitch.” Or those who do not see a place for private insurers are proposing, not only an expansion, but a restructuring of the current program. Or they should focus on the legitimate issues which need to be addressed during the process of getting everyone on board.
The best way for any candidate to sell (and I think it is a much easier one than even proponents believe) is two stage. Start with a 60 second commercial which encourages people to take a serious look at what MFA might look like. Ironically, the best model is the advertisements for new pharmaceuticals. First, they acknowledge the symptom. Second, they hit the viewer with an emotional appeal, e.g. the heartbreak of psoriasis. Then, they tell you there is an alternative. Finally, and most importantly, the point you to you a web site where you can learn more or encourage you to talk to a physician.
Some candidates have tackled the first part. It’s no Herculean task to enumerate the negatives associated with the current health care system. And we know the pain, e.g. having to choose among basic needs to cover health costs. Then tell the audience, this need not be the case. There is an alternative: MFA. And to learn more visit (website) or stop by my local campaign office where one of my staff will explain why MFA is right for you. This last point is critical. Any candidate who seriously believes in MFA has to ensure there is at least one campaign worker in every one of his or her locations who can explain, in detail, the candidate’s proposal for MFA.
Although I am not a candidate for president, here is what I and my campaign workers would say to anyone interested in my plan to expand MFA for all Americans.
I know you have heard a lot of negatives about Medical for All from Republicans and even a few Democrats. I don’t understand it. Talk to anyone approaching age 65. They can’t wait to get on Medicare. It is one of the most popular federal programs.
And I’m sure you’ve heard that MFA will be the death of private insurers. That gets to a major misunderstanding about what Medicare really is. It is not an insurance program; it is a health care premium savings program. Over the course of your working life, you pay into the system. That money is then used to cover your insurance premiums.
And what most people don’t realize is 77 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries get their coverage from a private insurance company through advantage or supplemental plans. The only difference is the federal government sends the company your monthly premium from the Medicare account. Ask anyone 65 or older. When you become eligible for Medicare, you’ll be inundated with materials from private companies competing for your business. And they will offer services (e.g. dental or eye care) above those provided by the basic program to sign you up. And that is good.
To cover MFA, workers will have to pay a higher percentage of their income to the Medicare fund, but it will be no higher than the combination of current Medicare and health plan payroll deductions plus your out of pocket expenses. For many it will be significantly less. We know people like the fact their employers can contribute to their health care coverage. But you realize they do this for economic reasons. They provide benefits to attract the best workers. And they will still be able to do that. An employer will have the option of paying all or part of an employee’s Medicare deduction. And CEOs tell us they like the fact they will not have to annually renegotiate health care contracts for their employees. Moreover, the employee health care deduction would be pre-tax as it would for self-employed individuals.
And we know you are concerned you will not be able to keep your current doctor. That’s where competition by private insurers work for you. You can pick a plan that includes your current physicians and medical facilities.
And if you want more than Medicare offers, there are no restrictions on the costs or services provided by so-called “Cadillac plans.” You simply pay the difference between Medicare’s monthly reimbursement and the premium for the enhanced coverage.
Don’t want to deal with a private insurer? Medicare will still have the public option (basic coverage) which serves 23 percent of beneficiaries today.
Finally, some Americans will need assistance with their deduction. Medicaid, just as it does for low income families under the Affordable Care Act, will still serve that purpose.
There you have it. A health care program for all Americans. I’d be glad to answer questions or provide more information.
Now, how painless was that. And there were no side-effects.
For what it’s worth.