By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit.
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) announced recently that he will introduce an amendment during the Senate healthcare debate this week that would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with John Conyers’ HR 676: “The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.”
Montana received a unique provision in the 2010 ACA under then-Senator Max Baucus in that residents of the entire town of Libby and the surrounding Lincoln County were given immediate coverage under Medicare because of widespread exposure to asbestos. Kay Tillow of All Unions for Single Payer wrote:
“They don’t have to be 65 years old or more. They don’t have to wait until 2014 for the state exchanges. No 10-year rollout – it’s immediate. They don’t have to purchase a plan – this is not a buy-in to Medicare – it’s free. They don’t have to be disabled for two years before they apply. They don’t have to go without care for three years until Medicaid expands. They don’t have to meet income tests. They don’t have to apply for a subsidy. They don’t have to pay a fine for failure to buy insurance. They don’t have to hope that the market will make a plan affordable. They don’t have to hide their pre-existing conditions. They don’t have to find a job that provides coverage.”
One might think that Senator Daines is proposing that all people in the United States receive what the good people of Libby and Lincoln County received, but sadly this appears to be a political stunt. Recently, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, has been saying publicly that all options are on the table including single payer. Other Senators, such as Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Dick Durbin have also expressed support. Given the growing support for National Improved Medicare for All, Sen. Daines wants to force Democrats in the Senate to declare where they stand on the issue, especially Democrats who are up for reelection in red states.
Surprise amendments to rushed bills is not the way to create a healthcare system for our country. This is a serious issue that requires full hearings and debates. But this does provide an opportunity for Senators to show the people of the United States whether they support a solution to the healthcare crisis or not.
Medicare turns 52 this weekend. It was initially intended to be the basis for a national health insurance, but Dixiecrat Wilbur Mills added the poison pill that prevented that from happening easily. Now is the perfect time to overcome that barrier and declare that we need Medicare for All.
Urge your Senator to vote for the Daines amendment, and then to work to make HR 676 a reality. Call Capitol Hill at 202 224 3121.
None of us should have to wait to receive the health care we need. We did it in 1965 for seniors, enrolling 19 million people in the first 12 months without the benefit of computers. We did it in 1972 for people with end-stage kidney disease. We did it this century for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and those exposed to asbestos in Montana.
No more special provisions for certain populations. Every person in the United States deserves access to health care. We are already spending enough to provide high quality comprehensive coverage to everyone. Let’s keep pushing for National Improved Medicare for All now!
Click here for a list of Medicare Birthday events and actions.