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Mitch McConnell and the Great American Myth of "Healthcare Freedom"

Donna Smith

The election Tuesday evening represents a magnificent opportunity for us all to observe the full spectrum of political dysfunction as it applies to health care reform.  Those who support single-payer, Medicare for all for life reform would do well to focus on some of the issues the Republicans and many Americans claim bother them most about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.

The simplest problem solved completely by an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life system is the issue of cancellation of policies that do not meet the minimum standards of the ACA or that were cancelled when insurance companies chose not to issue plans for any number of other profit-related issues.  No one gets cancelled under a medicare for all for life plan.  That's the end of that problem.

Then there is the issue of being able to keep your doctor or provider.  Single-payer solves that too. You could choose to see any provider who accepted the Medicare for all for life plan.  And if we were all covered under that plan, I expect nearly every doctor would accept you as a patient rather than forego that revenue.  Well, it surely isn't the government telling my husband's doctors who to accept and who not to accept as patients under his current Medicare and supplemental plans.  And if Mitch McConnell has his way, the private insurance industry will have even more control over our current Medicare system.

Over the past two weeks, we have gotten two separate letters explaining that only those Medicare Advantage plans offered by Humana will be accepted.  Clearly this physician group has negotiated a contract with Humana—the private, for-profit health insurance company—to exclude anyone who is enrolled in a non-Humana Medicare Advantage plan.  further, Humana wants to make sure this physician groups pushes its patients during the Medicare plan open enrollment period to make sure that those who do want to keep their doctors and who favor Medicare Advantage only sign up for Humana's plans.  Sweet deal for Humana -- and none of this is orchestrated by the government in any way.  This is private, free-choice health care system flow that Mitch McConnell supports. 

My husband must now change doctors.  As a person with a difficult health history, being forced by Humana or any other corporation to change doctors is problematic.  Under an improved and expanded Medicare for all for life system, none of this would happen.  There would be no need for the Medicare Advantage plans as the benefits for us all would be comprehensive and universal.  So long, Humana and your control over my husband's medical care -- and yours.

Others will unbundle for us the political implication of the Republican sweep, and I have made my share of comments about the ridiculousness of so many Americans either not voting or voting against their own self-interests as they buy into the propaganda from one side or the other. 

I cannot resist responding to Mitch McConnell's deep concern about repealing the tax medical device corporations pay under the ACA/Obamacare.  can you guess who gets the most in campaign contribution from the medical device and medical supplies industry?  Come on, I know you are quick on the uptake—oh, surprise, surprise, surprise—it's none other than Mitch McConnell.  Number one on the list—more than $72,000 bought his loyalty to the medical device industry.  Don't worry, Senator Ed Markey, the Democrat from the Romney-care state of Massachusetts, is right behind McConnell on those mega-bucks from the medical device folks.  And that's that.


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Donna Smith

Donna Smith

Donna Smith is the former executive director of Progressive Democrats of America and currently a Medicare for All campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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