J. Sytsma: Consider Medicare for everyone

I am responding to a column by Matt Miller of the Washington Post, printed in the Sun Journal Nov. 30. He suggests that President Obama appoint a panel of experts, chaired by Mitt Romney, to solve the serious problems the nation faces in financing health care.

Rather than asking Romney to chair a panel, Obama should listen to the majority of U.S. physicians and many others who have studied the problem for years and come up with the only system that makes sense — a single-payer national health policy.

Yes, the U.S. health care system is extremely dysfunctional, with 20 to  30 percent of health care spending going into corporate pockets, while more and more dollars are being taken away from beneficiaries.

The U.S., with its profitized system of health care, is spending twice as much on health care as other industrialized countries, yet stands in 17th place in quality of care. The death toll is higher among the uninsured than among the insured. Medical bankruptcy abounds, even among the insured.

The U.S. needs to take a serious look around and consider Medicare for all — the most efficient, not-for-profit system, with administrative costs similar to those in other countries.

John Sytsma, Farmington

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



MARK GRAVEL's picture

I asked you a set of

I asked you a set of questions, not the Krugman.

1. Given your brief Krugman quote, why doesn’t America simply print and loan money to itself until we have full employment? It is because that would devalue our currency. How are you going to pay for heating oil when it cost you $1000 per gallon because it is imported and bought with devalued dollars.
2. Did you know that the biggest owners of U.S. bonds is the government itself, not individuals? What money does the government use to buy bonds?
3. Question to you – how many pennies of each dollar is modest? Please answer using your brain, not the Krugman.
4. Never pay down debt – how did that work for those individuals that took money out of their house during the housing bubble. You see, the only way to avoid equilibrium is to keep borrowing. Households can only borrow so much before they can borrow no more – equilibrium – before their spending again matches their revenue. You see, debut spending provides only temporary stimulus, but it always an ends.

Proof – why don’t you keep borrowing to provide for your medical needs?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So let us follow the bouncing

So let us follow the bouncing ball.

The insurance company, called the middleman here, is not an efficient means to administer healthcare.

Therefore, we remove one middleman and insert another, the government, which you claim is the most efficient means for administering healthcare.

What if you removed all middlemen and paid providers directly out of your own pocket. Now that is the most efficient means of administrating healthcare.

Unless you want a free ride of course.

Betty Davies's picture


The purpose of the for-profit health insurance middlemen is to laboriously sort through the byzantine complexity of a zillion different types of insurance policies, find the details of the one you have, and deny the care you've paid premiums for. It also labors to make sure no one who might one day become ill is permitted to buy an affordable health insurance policy.

The purpose of the government bureaucracy is to facilitate health care for all Americans.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

First, your premise assumes

First, your premise assumes the Federal Government will not take action to reduce costs like the insurance industry, such as lower reimbursement rates to Doctors.

I have two friends who are Doctors. Over the years, they have taken fewer and fewer, and now no more Medicare patients. Why? It is because of the low reimbursement rates, if they get reimburse at all; reimbursements do not cover the costs of the services they provide.

When I asked them what they think the fate of Medicare is, they tell me they envision a two-tier health system. One system for those who can pay, one system for those on Medicare. They liken it to a meat processing plants where high volumes of people are moved through the system since volume is the only way Doctors can make money.

Hey, but you have healthcare, I guess?

Betty Davies's picture

We already have a 2-tier system

Multi-tier, in fact, and extremely unfair.

Some people can afford health insurance, others can't afford it. They do without preventive care, and when they become desperately ill we all end up paying for their ER care. Some people pay a fortune for insurance but it winds up not covering their healthcare costs, and they go into medical bankruptcy (arguably the most common cause of bankruptcy in the US). Some people can't get insurance at any price (pre-ACA) because of pre-existing conditions.

I think Medicare reimbursement should be raised, not slashed. I'm in an interesting and complex situation myself--

I work in a health-related field; my workplace tries minimize the number of Medicare patients because it would go out of business if the proportion grew much higher.

I'm in my mid-60s and signed up for Medicare, but only as a backup, as my husband served in Vietnam and I have Tricare as a result. If I move out of my current area, Tricare might not work in a new location and I'd have only Medicare for health insurance. I'd become one of the people some healthcare providers hope not to serve!

We have a disabled adult daughter who finds it hard to get services because she has Medicare. Her husband can't afford health insurance of any kind. His parents are retiring and will soon have only Medicare.

We have another daughter who is currently stuck with a horrible job because it's been the only way she can afford health insurance, and a grandson born with pre-existing conditions who would never have been able to get health insurance if the ACA hadn't been passed. This son-in-law has healthcare through work and likes his job but could get laid off any day--then no health insurance, and he wouldn't qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.

The low rates of payment for Medicare providers result from a Republican attempt to balance the budget by slashing programs and services that help everyday Americans, including the elderly and disabled, which keeping special tax breaks for millionaires and encouraging corporate welfare and a bloated military.

What's needed is a single-payer system. America can afford it. The health of our nation is at stake.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

First, life is not fair, has

First, life is not fair, has never been fair, never will be fair. Living is a struggle. That is the human condition. I neither envy nor dislike those who have more than I have.

ACA will drive up insurance cost because someone must pay for those extra benefits. In this case, the young are paying disproportionally - not fair to them. Insurance companies see this as a windfall – healthy people forced to buy more insurance than they need.

Medicare reimbursement cannot be raised since there is no money in the treasury to backup that action. That said, don’t be closed minded and blame only the republicans. Government as a body is responsible for what government does.

At least you understand about the Medicare challenges I’m talking about since you see it firsthand. Most good liberals say I’m lying when I tell that story.

This government, both R & D, have backed this country into a corner with debt spending – past and present. The only way out is austerity, something that many people have not realized yet. That said, you can reveal in the victory of taxing the rich, but that will not solve the problem. It is a mere distraction from your liberal friends (not really your friends) in Washington DC.

Betty Davies's picture

Austerity kills national economies

Republican leaders are pushing austerity as a way to reduce Americans to a 3rd-world state of despair in which they'll accept poor wages and working conditions, knowing that the alternative is homelessness and starvation with no social programs in place to help them.

Paul Krugman offers many insights into the dangers of austerity. "The bad metaphor... equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt... [But] if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt...everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better...

"When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.

"The austerity drive... isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs....[But] look at the countries in Europe that have weathered the storm best, and near the top of the list you’ll find big-government nations like Sweden and Austria....

“Even if you have a long-run deficit problem... slashing spending while the economy is deeply depressed is a self-defeating strategy, because it just deepens the depression... Economic recovery was never the point; the drive for austerity was about using the crisis, not solving it. " [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-agenda.html]

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Paul Krugman is the only

Paul Krugman is the only economist I know of whom thinks debts don’t matter.

Do you really think debts don’t matter? If no, then when do you pay them down? What if debts get so large that the country cannot pay?

Can you answer those questions?

Just examine your metaphor – when the debt gets so large, everyone is forced to tighten their belt simultaneously – austerity.

So when do you start zeroing the debt? Tell us! Next month, next year, 10 years from now?

Lastly, ask yourself way so many liberals love the Krugman. I’ll tell you. It is because he makes you think debts don’t matter and you can keep spending yourself into the land of milk an honey. Name one success story?

Betty Davies's picture

Try reading Krugman

Just go to the NY Times website and enter "Krugman national debt" or "Krugman austerity" in the search engine. His explanations are complex, more than I have time to do justice to. There is simply no need to "zero" the national debt.

Very briefly, "An over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves. This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history...

"...nations with stable, responsible governments — that is, governments that are willing to impose modestly higher taxes when the situation warrants it — have historically been able to live with much higher levels of debt than today’s conventional wisdom would lead you to believe.

"...Of course, America, with its rabidly antitax conservative movement, may not have a government that is responsible in this sense. But in that case the fault lies not in our debt, but in ourselves. So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way." [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/opinion/krugman-nobody-understands-debt.html]

For further reading, try a George Washington University Law School scholarly article, "Why We Should Never Pay Down the Naitonal Debt." For example, "paying down the national debt would destabilize financial markets, by removing an essential source of risk-free financing that is used in nearly all major private-sector financial transactions, and that is the basis of sound financial planning for households and businesses alike." [http://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&context=faculty_publications]

Jason Theriault's picture


Unless of course, hospitals have to provide treatment.

Which they do.

So since there is already universal access to treatment, there needs to be a clear cut way to pay for it. Otherwise, those costs get passed to us indirectly, and get severely inflated along the way.

Every other industrialized nation has realized that it is better to have a single payer system. It results in better care for most people, and by removing this as something employers have to deal with(which make NO f-ing sense), they can focus more time and effort on creating jobs.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Until the money runs out –

Until the money runs out – enter stage left France, Italy, Greece. Or your economy stagnates – Britain.

Many of these industrialized countries also have high unemployment rates, especially for ages 18-25.

In hindsight, wouldn’t it have been more manageable for congress to tackle the top 5 cost drivers instead of creating Frankenstein (aka ObummerCare)?

Steve  Dosh's picture

J. Sytsma: Consider Medicare for everyone

John 14:30 HS† ? hump day
We agree ? http://www.pnhp.org/ows/index.php
Obamacare ® will take full effect in 2 0 1 4
With only tangental reference to the fiscal cliff us Democrats have no thing to lose . The default solution ( doing no thing ) favors US all
/s Dr. Dosh , Hawai'i • 

 's picture

English has this handy word ...

... "nothing". No space. Also, it's "tangential". If you're going to try to use big words, at least turn on spellcheck.

Doing nothing increases taxes on your precious middle class, many of whom, if they get ticked off enough, may decide they have been voting for the wrong party.

By the way, Dosh, you will be relieved to know that Obamacare will cover brain transplants. That is, it will pay for the procedure, but you have to buy your own new brain. The current rates are: $5000 for a Democrat brain; $500 for a Republican brain. The latter is offered at a big discount because it has been used.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

LMAO....good post, Mike.

LMAO....good post, Mike. Merry Christmas.

 's picture

Excellent letter

Today on Morning Joe, Steve Rattner confirmed the thrust of my recent letter - that any compromise on the "fiscal cliff" is a victory for Republican extremists who's primary goal is to repeal medicare and social security instead of cutting health care costs including as Mr. Sytsma wrote by going to a national single-payer system.
Making permanent 98% of the irresponsible Bush tax cuts - winner Republicans losers- working and middle class tax payers
Cutting Social Security's CPI increases - Winner Republicans; osers - working and middle class SS beneficiaries
Cutting Medicare Benefits - Winners Republicans losers working and middle class families. And this puts Social Security and Medicare both programs not having contributed one penny to the National Debt on the hit list for every phony debt crisis the Republicans fashion until there is no safety net.
Yesterday the President suggested that after the "fiscal cliff" is resolved he would be willing to discuss reducing tax rates next year. Winner Republicans losers working and middle class tax payers.
Where is the win for Democrats and the majority of people they represent. A single-payer health care system funded by increasing the top tax rates and treating all income the same and perhaps a tax on stock/bond speculation would be such a win.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Now there's a powerful

Now there's a powerful reference source; "Morning Joe Scarboro". Who are you going to quote next as a source of political savvy; Whoopi Goldberg?

 's picture

This group of physicians and others ...

... hasn't thought this through. Currently when a doctor treats a Medicare patient, he submits a bill into the system and receives reimbursement at a reduced rate. Let's assume that the bill was a true reflection of the cost of the treatment. That means the doctor is operating at a loss. He deals with this by increasing costs to non-Medicare patients, leading to higher insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Under Medicare-for-all, the doctor can't shift costs and has to eat the loss. This can only work if the doctor becomes a salaried employee of the government which then does what government does best - loses money. But, no worries - government can always print more. This is a bare-bones description of the UK's National Health. Our panel of experts needs to hear reports on how great that system is.

Here's mine. In my capacity as a computer professional, I have dealt in recent years with employment agencies in England. Without exception, every job description includes at the top of the list of benefits: private medical insurance. One wonders why they haven't dealt with this the way Canada has: make private insurance illegal. The answer is, Canadians can come south for some of that awful US for-profit healthcare. The British don't have that option.

Obamacare further reduces Medicare reimbursement rates and adds the vague promise to pick up the slack "later". If you have the stamina, you can find the details somewhere in the 2700 pages. Once this monstrosity gets cemented in place, it will make Medicare-for-all look like what you say it is - but impossible to achieve.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...