By Jack Bernard and Doug Skelton, M.D.
The Telegraph (Macon, Ga.), March 28, 2017
We were encouraged by President Trump’s campaign promise to “cover everyone.” What happened, Mr. President? No wonder Trumpcare/Ryancare failed to even get a House vote.
Trumpcare/Ryancare has been rated by the Congressional Budget Office. It leaves an additional 24 million people out in the cold without insurance. Added to the 30 million now uninsured, that gives us over 50 million with no coverage.
For a “non politician,” you seem to be learning fast. Promise anything to get elected and then renege on your pledges of coverage.
Yes, Trumpcare/Ryancare reduces the deficit. But how: by eliminating the subsidies that enabled working people to afford to pay their premiums and cutting out Medicaid expenditures, dumping the fiscal and moral problem onto the states.
Not only that, but Trumpcare/Ryancare significantly cut taxes for those families making over $250,000 a year. Are these folks the “little man” that you pledged to help in your campaign?
Mr. President, you said health care reform is more complex than you originally thought. We agree. What was the rush to replace Obamacare? It has problems, but it has resulted in 22 million, mostly working-class people, getting insurance. These are the very people who voted you into office, by the way. And, they are the ones hurt by your bill.
The main problem with Obamacare is that it is derived from a free market concept emanating from the right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. It was picked up and promoted by Bob Dole when he ran for president. Mitt Romney adopted it in Massachusetts. And it became Romneycare.
Obama decided he didn’t have the votes to get it through a Democratic Congress in 2009. So, he went with an adaptation of Romneycare which is based on private insurance company expansion, hoping to get GOP support. He did not. Sen. Mitch McConnell made sure he didn’t even get one GOP vote.
In any case, that is the wrong model, as shown by many well-documented studies that compare our health care system to that of other developed nations. Our health care cost per capita is much higher than any other nation and our health status (morbidity and mortality) is worse. Italy and Israel, for example, have fine health care, but their per capita costs are one-third of ours.
You recently had Carol Paris, M.D., ejected from your rally in Nashville for promoting single-payer health care (i.e. expansion of Medicare to cover all ages). Dr. Paris is president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP, www.pnhp.org), a respected 20,000-member group advocating for Medicare for all. Why not consider what they have to say?
Before you became a politician, you advocated repeatedly for single payer. What changed? Are the lobbyists for drug and insurance companies influencing you? What happened to draining the swamp? Do you really want to be saddled with Trumpcare/Ryancare in the next election? Obviously, as shown by the House pulling back from the vote, they do not want to be associated with it in 2018.
Our suggestion is that you create a Health Advisory Council composed of the best health policy experts in the nation in order to evaluate the costs and benefits of true universal coverage, expansion of Medicare, as you promised in the campaign.
Mr. President, you are known for changing your positions frequently. We hope you change back to what really works, Medicare for all, before it is too late for you and our nation, not to mention your party in 2018.
Jack Bernard is a retired senior vice president with a national health care firm and the former director of Health Planning for the state of Georgia.
Doug Skelton is the former dean of Medicine for Mercer School of Medicine. He was also the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources and chancellor of the Trinity School of Medicine.