In early December, a Texas judge ruled that Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is unconstitutional. According to the judge, because Congress removed the penalty from the individual mandate, the law is no longer considered a tax and is therefore unconstitutional. The ruling is unlikely to survive the appeals process. However, some policy experts argue that this controversial ruling strengthens the cause for Medicare for All.
What is Medicare for All?
Medicare for All is a single-payer healthcare program championed by progressives like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Kamala Harris (D-Ca), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Sanders first attempted to pass the legislation in 2013, but it fell flat on the Senate floor. In 2016, however, a similar bill garnered 16 co-sponsors.
The program would work by gradually including people under 65 into Medicare, dropping the age limit by 10 years every year until the fourth year when everyone would be covered. This program would also cover more than what Medicare currently covers, including dental and vision care. Deductibles, copays, and premiums would be eliminated under this plan as well.
In a recent poll from Reuters, more than 70 percent of Americans are in favor of Medicare for All.
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How did the ruling strengthen the Medicare for All cause?
When the Texas judge ruled Obamacare unconstitutional, health experts across the country feared it would take away healthcare coverage from more than 150 million people who benefit from the law. More than 20 million people have healthcare coverage because of the law, and 133 million people have coverage due to the protection of preexisting conditions.
This move illustrates to progressives how crucial it is to protect the healthcare coverage for these individuals—and extend the benefits to everyone in the country. Because Obamacare has been attacked relentlessly since its passing in 2010, Democrats have moved further to the left on the issue of healthcare.
With the Trump administration placing two conservative justices on the Supreme Court of the United States, however, a Medicare for All law could be ruled against immediately should it ever reach the Supreme Court.
How Obamacare strengthened Medicare
Obamacare strengthened Medicare by:
- Lowering premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing
- Slowing growth of payment rates to hospitals
- Offering free preventative benefits and screenings
- Helping to close the prescription drug coverage gap
Obamacare assisted other forms of health insurance as well by setting lifetime limits on out-of-pocket spending, protecting people with preexisting conditions, and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until 26. It also requires that companies with more than 50 employees extend healthcare benefits to employees working more than 30 hours.
Feedback on the ruling
In a tweet, Bernie Sanders said of the ruling, “This is an outrageous, disastrous decision that threatens the health care and lives of millions of people. It must be overturned. We must move forward to make health care a right for every American.”
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