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Do warnings about a public option sound familiar?

COMMENTARY | August 24, 2009

To Medicare advocate Judith Stein, the alarms about socialism and government barring the doctor’s door are all very familiar. They go back 44 years to the original Medicare legislation.

By Judith Stein

Forty-four years ago Medicare was enacted into law. All of today's dire warnings about a public health option - socialism and government barring the doctor's door - were made back then. Medicare passed because of some courageous, principled law-makers. 
Before Medicare, 50 percent of everyone 65 or older had NO health insurance. Now, as a result of Medicare, almost all older people are insured. Medicare, which is national, government-run health insurance, succeeded in insuring older people where private insurance failed. Further, until the Bush Administration privatized Medicare with huge subsidies to private "Medicare Advantage" and Part D plans, Medicare was also remarkably cost-effective. It's private Medicare, not the traditional, public program, that's bleeding taxpayers of billions of dollars. 
Traditional Medicare has been a success, fiscally and morally. It took on the job of insuring health coverage and care to people that private insurance had abandoned. Since 2003, on the other hand, private Medicare plans have cost tens of billions of dollars that have gone to support the private insurance industry, not to providing health care. In addition, private Medicare plans have too often engaged in marketing abuses and restrictive coverage practices. 
As numerous studies have shown, people with Medicare love it. They do not want government to fool around with the traditional program. Ironically, some people with Medicare are arguing against a public health care reform option – while also telling the government “to keep its hands off their Medicare!” They, and their family members, (which accounts for pretty much all of us), forget that the traditional Medicare program is a public health insurance option. 
America, meet Medicare:  Our 44 year-old public health insurance option that provides care to all its enrollees everywhere in the country, and that has provided health and economic security for millions of older people, people with disabilities, and their families. For two generations, the public Medicare program has shown what a true public insurance program can offer – health insurance for the otherwise uninsured, at a price taxpayers can afford. 
Click here to see other Nieman Watchdog articles by Judith Stein.

Posted by Mike Swans
12/10/2009, 12:30 PM

Did I miss something? Facts, what facts? Seems all opinion to me. Medicare is bankrupt, Medicare Part D, the free market portion, is now 1/3 less that projected while achieving all of its goals. Can the rest of Medicare post such numbers - of course not.

Posted by todd miller
01/15/2011, 12:00 PM

By legal representation for the elderly, you mean you like to sue the government in order to deregulate it which is exactly what the people you criticize do. You promote deregulation and more money like the people you criticize. You're suing the government over aspects of health care that make it less profitable. Toby Edelman testifies before congress that we don't want medicare to dictate safety practices to health care professionals when 2/7 patients in hospitals (not the nursing homes) are harmed by their care but you ignore that problem. What is your orgnaization doing about that problem. Nothing? You want less regulations and more money. That sounds like front group logic to me. Where do you get your funding? --hospitals, physicians, nursing associations or insurance companies. You're not advocating for patients. You're advocating for the profiteers.

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