Opinion: Medicare for all won't work for Michigan
Medicare for all has become a rallying cry for those who want to fix what’s broken in our nation’s health care system. Everyone deserves access to high quality, affordable health care, so it’s easy to get behind a simple solution to a complex problem.
However, when it comes to our health and well-being, we need to step beyond simple slogans and pursue thoughtful, long-lasting and meaningful change — Medicare for all is not the answer.
Make no mistake, Medicare serves an important purpose, and will continue to do so, but it was never set up to run as a program “for all.”
For health care leaders, one of the biggest concerns with Medicare is that it has never fully covered the cost of care for our patients.
In fact, there’s evidence that underpayments associated with the program have led to hospital closures and driven consolidation. Less talked about, but equally as important, is the impact limited funding has on health care innovation and advancements.
Limiting our ability to invest in the best and latest technology places boundaries on our potential to treat patients and share our medical expertise. Innovations like telemedicine, which has been crucial to improving health outcomes in medically underserved areas, have opened the door to better health care access for both urban and rural Michiganians — it’s imperative for elected officials and policy makers to foster environments where life-saving developments can take place.
So how do we fix what’s broken in our health care system? We need to improve upon what we have — a health care system that allows millions of Americans to keep their employer-sponsored health coverage while preserving Medicare and expanding Medicaid for those who need it — and work toward improvements in our current arena.
For example, acknowledging both the strengths and weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act and working to improve it without upending the entire system would pave the way to greater stability in our health care system.
If the goal is to insure more people and increase accessibility to care, there are bills in Congress right now to start accomplishing this.
Last month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a plan that would, among other things, expand tax credits to more low- and middle-income families. Increasing tax credits helps residents in urban and rural areas better afford health care, and it doesn’t risk hospital closures in the process.
Regardless of where you live, what you do or any other circumstances, you deserve to feel confident and secure in your ability to access health care when and where you need it.
But Medicare for all — despite the seductive simplicity of its message — is simply unacceptable, and pursuing it any further does ourselves, our state and our health a disservice. We can and need to do better when it comes to improving our health care system.
Rob Casalou is president & CEO of Trinity Health, Michigan Region.