Troy N. Miller: West Virginia wins with Medicare-for-all

Don’t be fooled by lobbyist lies. Here’s how West Virginia wins with “Medicare for All.”

Medicare for All would save West Virginians money, provide better health care and produce superior outcomes. It would be a massive stimulus for West Virginia’s workers, families and small businesses, and it would immediately put $10 million back into West Virginia’s budget.

The biggest charges against Medicare for All are: 1) It would hurt current Medicare recipients. 2) It would limit choices for patients. 3) It would be too expensive. All are false.

In fact, Medicare for All would be a huge benefit for the 433,000 West Virginians currently receiving Medicare. It would save them a great deal of money. It would add long-term care benefits and hearing, vision and dental to their current coverage, and would eliminate Medicare’s current premiums, co-pays and deductibles. That means the 25 percent of West Virginians who currently receive Medicare would instantly be better off financially.

Medicare for All would likewise eliminate co-pays and deductibles for every West Virginian receiving employer health coverage. And with everyone covered, pharmaceutical companies would have no choice but to negotiate prices, bringing down costs for everyone. By some estimates, costs would decrease by as much as 50 percent for brand-name drugs.

Medicare for All would also give West Virginians the only choice that matters: the ability to choose your doctor and hospital, without interference from corporate executives or your boss.

Under our current private insurance system, West Virginians have little to no choice. There are only two private insurers in the entire state: Highmark and CareSource. In 11 counties, including the entire Eastern Panhandle, Highmark is the only private insurer. These private insurers limit your choices, including your choice of insurance company.

Today, if you like your doctor and they don’t accept your insurance — or, if the insurer won’t work with them — your choice is taken away. Under Medicare for All, you would never again have to worry about losing your doctor. And your doctor won’t have to deal with the ever-changing policies of a private insurer.

Many politicians and lobbyists also claim that Medicare for All would be too expensive because, they say, the private sector is more efficient than government. False. The overhead for private health insurers has ballooned from an average of 9 percent in 1970 to an average between 12 and 18 percent today. By contrast, Medicare continues to operate with closer to a 3 percent overhead.

At the state level, Medicare for All would immediately free up $10 million annually that currently goes towards keeping the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) afloat, and every public employee in West Virginia would immediately benefit too.

Public employees would also save on all out-of-pocket costs and get to keep more of their paycheck. The state would save at least $10 million per year and would never again have to engage in legislative negotiations to decide how to make sure that public employees aren’t seeing their real incomes fall.

For conservatives who want to eliminate state agencies, eliminating the PEIA and freeing up tens of millions from the state budget should be a major perk of Medicare for All.

These are just a few of the many ways that West Virginia’s families, workers and small business owners would benefit from more freedom and more money in their pockets under Medicare for All.

Medicare for All is excellent for everyone but Big Pharma and insurance companies — those who profit from our sickness. Don’t be fooled by the millions of dollars they are spending to convince us otherwise.

Troy N. Miller is the Special Projects Director for Social Security Works and Executive Producer for “The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow.” He lives in Jefferson County.

FUNERALS FOR TODAY JANUARY 21, 2020

Campbell, Virginia - 2 p.m., Wallace Funeral Home & Chapel, Barboursville.

Fisher, Helen - 6 p.m., Cunningham - Parker - Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Johnson, Linda - 2 p.m., Highland Memory Gardens, Chapmanville.

Kessler, Carolyn - 5 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

King, Charles - Noon, Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Nitro.

Pauley, Bernice - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Sigman, Christopher - 2 p.m., Propps Family Cemetery, Summersville.

Williams, Archie - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.