Part II: The ACA, Medicare for All, and Universal Healthcare
Throughout the year, we have endured repeated attempts at either a complete repeal of the ACA or different Republican versions of the bill (i.e. Better Care Reconciliation Act and the Graham Cassidy ACA repeal bill). In addition, the Trump administration has initiated several maneuvers to sabotage the ACA. Some of these are terminating marketplace outreach, announcement that cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments will cease to insurers, announcement that employers no longer have to provide contraception coverage based on moral or religious grounds, elimination of Sundays during the enrollment period, and the shortening of the enrollment time period from 90 days to 45 days.
Dr. Mitchell’s response to the Trump and Republican actions toward the ACA this year is:
“I’m absolutely disgusted by what is going on…it’s absolutely reprehensible from a moral standpoint as literally taking healthcare from people. Healthcare in my opinion is a right. We are all human beings. We are all one walking pre-existing condition, even when you are young and healthy, you are literally one car accident, one tragedy away, one illness away from being financially devastated and wiped out.
There is the moral argument of making sure that people have access to affordable healthcare and there’s also the economic argument of this…Tennessee for example, one of the fastest-actually the fastest and most anticipated area of growth in our economy for jobs is healthcare…We now have not only suffered through a state administration, as well as, at the federal level, as well as, the guy I’m challenging, Chuck Fleischmann, who railed against the Medicaid expansion; even though, he didn’t have a say in terms of the vote. He was not in support of it and the state legislature, they turned away 3.5 million dollars of Medicaid funding for the Medicaid expansion. They not only turned away healthcare for people, but they turned away jobs for Tennesseans, they turned away grandma and grandpa’s ability to keep the roof over their head. They turned away the ability for rural hospitals to keep open. Tennessee is second in the nation for the number of hospital closures. So, this was literally taking the economy in Tennessee and crumbling it up like a piece of paper and burning it.”
She also went on to highlight an important issue that many elected officials are not raising when discussing Medicare For All or universal healthcare. She explained the argument is always, “How are you going to pay for that?” Her response is:
“Well, how about actually controlling the costs in healthcare? Because healthcare really is a need for people, it’s not a want, it is a need. And none of the elected officials, especially Chuck Fleischmann, are challenging this unfair market and these absolutely out of control prices in healthcare for things like drugs, medical devices. Tennessee happens to be one of the most expensive states in the nation to obtain healthcare as it turns out.”
She advocates for “more of a universal healthcare program” approach to fix our current healthcare problems and does believe in the Medicare For All message, but expounds that “we have to recognize that the systems that Medicare For All are based on are actually hybrid systems and the problem with ours right now is that the percentage is actually way, way far skewed toward the private end and we need to switch that percentage toward the other end.” She further elaborates on her healthcare proposal by explaining:
“It’s not just one program that would actually bring healthcare to people, but a hybrid system much like a healthcare program in France has where you have government sponsored healthcare as the base of healthcare. But, then you also have private insurers to share the cost of what you are trying to deliver…The bulk of your healthcare is covered by government sponsored healthcare programs and that’s subsidized in multiple ways. You could subsidize that through small tax, you also cost control or you place tax on the profits of big companies like pharmaceutical companies, who then come back in and charge these outrageous prices to people, but if they are doing that then we should levy a tax back on them and put that money back into the healthcare pool. Or these insane executive salaries and bonuses that we see paid out to insurance company CEOs. There is no reason that hard working Americans should be struggling to access healthcare when people like the CEO of Cigna in…I believe 2015, his compensation package was 49 million dollars.”
She believes in being flexible and ensuring that current healthcare industry employees do not find themselves unemployed, so the government portion of the program should be administered by health insurance companies and their employees.
Her suggestion to begin the steps toward universal healthcare are to roll it out slowly in a decade age group at a time. Right now, people who are eligible for Medicare are 65 years old and the disabled. She proposes a roll out for people 55-65 years old and balancing it with people, who have less medical problems and are 20-30 years old. Then the next year, add ages birth to 10 years with 30-40-year-old people. So, it’s cost balanced and “it’s staged in over a period of a few years and then you gradually increase the subsidy, put a small tax, price control…or tax pharmaceutical companies and insurance executives’ exorbitant salaries.”
Recently, Dr. Mitchell has been endorsed by Run Doc Run, Project 100 Women, and Clinicians for Progressive Healthcare.
Please check back next week for Part III-The Republican Tax Plan, Trump’s Budget, Jobs and More.
To donate to her campaign, please go to: www.mitchell4congress.com/donate (hit ctrl and click if site doesn’t appear to be working).