By Pamella Gronemeyer, M.D.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters, July 2, 2015
As a physician, I felt compelled to write a letter concerning the King v. Burwell case decision announced last week. The Supreme Court upheld the right for citizens of all states to benefit from the federal subsidies.
While Chief Justice John Roberts did not state that health care is a human right, he did state that the purpose of the Affordable Care Act was “passed to strengthen insurance markets, not destroy them.”
This decision magnifies the poor decision made by many states, including Missouri, to not accept the Medicaid option. By refusing to take the federal subsidy, the states leave a large number of people who earn salaries around the poverty level not eligible for either subsidies or Medicaid. The first thing that should happen is these states should reconsider the health and welfare of their citizens rather than the gamesmanship of politics and accept the Medicaid expansion.
The King v. Burwell decision does not mean that many physicians, nurses, health care workers, labor unions and average Americans will stop working for Medicare for All, a single-payer health care system, which would insure that all Americans would receive health care (not just insurance coverage) from birth until death.
The ACA is incredibly complex and still relies on a multitude of third-party payers providing a variety of plans with a mélange of different, unequal benefits. There will still be 24 million uninsured people in the United States if every state accepted the Medicaid option. Single-payer would slash the administrative bloat in our private-insurance-based system and would allow us to pay for health care, not insurance. It is the only way that we can curb the still rising costs of health care.
The legality of the Medicare system has already been tested. It will be 50 years old this year. Currently Medicare covers the 20 percent of the population who require 80 percent of the cost of health care in the United States. Medicare for All would put an end to the efforts that will still be ongoing by some politicians to destroy or repeal the ACA legislatively.
Dr. Pamella Gronemeyer resides in Glen Carbon, Ill.