Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) visited Alabama where he held campaign rallies and town halls in Birmingham and Montgomery touting his Medicare for All plan. His staunch opposition to anything other than a complete overhaul of the U.S. health care system has often dominated political and health care conversations.
Every American deserves access to affordable coverage. However, we shouldn’t do it at the expense of high-quality care or access.
Medicare for All is a government insurance system that would force everyone into a one-size-fits-all program. This idea is a slippery slope to full-blown government control of every American’s health. This would have disastrous consequences, none of which put patients first. Under these plans, Americans would be forced to give up their current coverage. In fact, it would cause 91% of Americans to lose their current plan, many of whom rely on coverage to receive the care they need.
Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would also compromise the high-quality care that every American deserves. The Congressional Budget Office says implementing a Medicare for All plan would be “complicated, challenging and potentially disruptive.” With a single-payer system, the CBO says patients may see longer wait times, reduced access to care and loss of services.
Americans do not want a government insurance system that limits their choice of doctor and threatens the viability of the entire system.
This diminished quality of care would especially hurt those in rural areas. Government insurance systems would lead to massive cuts in funding, exacerbating Alabama’s increase in rural hospital closings and health care job losses. With Alabama’s current rural health care issues and funding woes, we can’t afford to take risks when it comes to quality and access of care.
In a time when rhetoric surrounding health care often becomes impractical and even polarizing, it’s up to our lawmakers in Washington to deliver patient-centered policies that will improve the affordability of health care without promising a one-size-fits-all approach.
Health care reform should be driven by what’s best for patients, not politics.
Brian Feldman is the Healthcare Leadership Council regional director for Region 3, overseeing Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and South Carolina.