What is “Medicare for All”?

Fifty-four years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law, the overwhelmingly popular program that provides health care and supports the economic security for more than 58 million seniors.

Yet, despite Medicare’s overwhelming success, we continue to face a serious health care crisis in our country, especially for those without Medicare or other government-sponsored health care. Millions remain uninsured or underinsured, and many others who have health coverage are just one serious health issue away from bankruptcy. While the United States spends the most on health care per capita in the world, we have some of the lowest health outcomes among developed nations. 

That’s because the health care industry – insurance companies, pharmaceutical giants, device manufacturers, hospital groups, private equity, and Wall Street and their well-paid lobbyists – are raking in billions off the backs of sick people and spending millions to keep their profits flowing. Republicans and even some Democrats are all-too-happy to oblige. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Progressives lawmakers in Congress, policy experts, health care professionals and others who demand a bold solution to fix this for-profit health care fiasco have a commonsense, popular alternative, and you’ve probably heard about it. It’s called “Medicare for All” – a plan to expand Medicare to everyone to ensure all Americans have health coverage provided by the government.

What exactly is Medicare for All, how would it work and why are Republicans and many in the health care industry so opposed to it?

What is Medicare for All?

Health care is a basic human right, not a luxury for just those who can afford it. Medicare for All ensures that all Americans have access to health care provided by the government. It’s a single, national health plan that makes sure everyone can see a doctor when they’re sick. 

Medicare for All would replace the greedy, for-profit leeches that drive up costs without making us any healthier and would result in more health care coverage and better outcomes while reducing overall medical costs. Medicare for All would also improve the program for today’s seniors by including younger people and adding dental and hearing coverage into Medicare.

Here are more details about Medicare for All and an FAQ that dispels many of the misconceptions about single-payer health care from the Physicians for a National Health Program.

Who supports Medicare for All?

Medicare for All is extremely popular. Polling consistently shows that the American public supports a single-payer, Medicare for All system. In fact, a recent poll shows that 70% of Americans support Medicare for All, including 52% of Republicans. National Nurses United, a 150,000-member labor union, supports Medicare for All. More than 100 members of Congress support Medicare for All, and at least a dozen 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls support some version of Medicare for All.

In 2018, CREDO, along with many of our progressive allies including Healthcare-NOW, Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America, Daily Kos, Justice Democrats, MoveOn and Public Citizen, delivered more than 1 million petition signatures urging Congress to take action to pass Medicare for All.

Is there legislation in Congress to pass Medicare for All?

Yes, and CREDO actively supports these bills. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently re-introduced his comprehensive Medicare for All legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Pramilla Jayapal introduced an incredibly detailed, 125+ page Medicare for All version in the House of Representatives. 

In May, CREDO Action Co-Director Josh Nelson visited Rep. Jayapal’s office to host a great panel with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works where they discussed why profit has no place in our health care system and why Medicare for All is the best plan to ensure all people have health care. You can watch the full livestream here:

What’s stopping Medicare for All from being enacted?

Simply put: greed.

Right now, predatory insurance companies and Big Pharma stand between people and their doctors and use monopoly power to rob us blind. But despite its popularity and success, Medicare remains under constant attack by extremist Republicans who would rather reward their billionaire donors on the backs of seniors and working people.

So it should go without saying that the for-profit health care industry and their Republican enablers in Congress do not want to see Medicare expanded. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The massive Trump Tax Scam rammed through Congress in late 2017 was intentionally designed to drive up the deficit in order to justify gutting Medicare and Social Security. 

But thanks to activism and progressives in Congress, we’ve helped to prevent massive cuts to Medicare and are shifting the conversation on Medicare for All from a bold, fearless idea to a mainstream, popular opinion.

How can I help?

We need your help to show tremendous grassroots support for Medicare for All. While conservative Democrats resist the plan and some presidential candidates float proposals that fall short of expanding Medicare to everyone, we believe that bold, progressive ideas deserve support. 

Right now, CREDO and our members are pressuring Congress to support Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation. We urge you to join us and sign the petition here.