Leading the charge for Medicare for All

Marva Wade, RN, (right), joins a Medicare for All rally in NYC. Supporters across the country are turning out on what many consider the single most important issue of our time.

Nurses are at the front lines of a growing movement calling for a universal, single-payer ‘Medicare for All’ system.

Let’s be clear that NYSNA is advocating for a much-improved version of Medicare to be expanded to all residents. The nurses’ proposal is one that actually meets the healthcare needs of our patients: it is universal with more comprehensive benefits, and is much more affordable than the Medicare program as we know it.

Public support surging

Without meaningful reform, the US healthcare system will continue getting more expensive, more confusing, less fair, and more deadly. Patients are so frustrated by the cost of insurance and care that public support for an improved ‘Medicare for All’ system is surging: to 70% in some public opinion polls. Recently, we welcomed the ACP — the second largest physician organization representing 150,000 physicians — in endorsing ‘Medicare for All’.

Debate on Medicare for All centers on an unfounded assumption: that insured Americans are satisfied with their coverage. Nor has debate accurately quoted the real costs to Americans of their insurance versus an improved Medicare system.

The most expensive and harmful option is to do nothing. 1 in 4 Americans delay care because of cost, a cancer diagnosis is likely to bankrupt you, 1 in 10 Americans know someone who died because they couldn’t afford the care they needed, and nurses and doctors report burnout from the incredibly burdensome paperwork keeping us from providing quality care.

I was an OR nurse for 39 years. I loved my work and the patients I took care of. What I didn’t like knowing some patient’s surgery was cancelled, rescheduled or delayed because insurance companies had DENIED coverage for a much needed indeed life-saving procedure.

When talking about Medicare for All with NYSNA members, I have heard a lot of nurses speaking about the challenges their patients face. Every day, we see our patients make heartbreaking choices between getting the care they and their children need or paying rent, buying insulin or buying food.

Big costs with insurance

One patient without insurance coverage is too many, and in our state alone over 1 million people are still without any coverage at all. Nationally, over 28 million are uninsured. Those of us lucky enough to have coverage through our jobs often face prohibitive costs when we do use our insurance — copays, deductibles, and ever increasing premiums.

Turns out there is a better way to cover everyone, lower costs, and make sure money is invested into quality care and care giving jobs: Medicare for All.

True comprehensive care

Medicare for All will cover every single resident with high quality care. The system saves money by streamlining the administration and bringing down costs on drugs and medical equipment. The substantial savings can then be used to provide high quality care to every resident. Benefits of our proposed ‘Medicare for All’ system are more comprehensive than any existing public or private insurance plan, covering all medical care, dental, vision, hearing, and long-term care and support services. There will be no copays or deductibles keeping people from accessing needed care. We won’t greet patients at the hospital and clinic with, ‘how are you going to pay for this?’ But rather, ‘how are you feeling today?’

Now is the time to spread the word about ‘Medicare for All.’ We want to hear from you. If you are interested in telling your healthcare story, or learning more about the Medicare for All proposal nationally or in New York State, please reach out to katie.robbins@nysna.org or me at marva.wade@nysna.org. We’d love to hear from you!

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