Did Obama Just Bring Us One Step Closer to Medicare for All?

Medicare for all, Barack Obama, single-payer healthcare, Medicare

Medicare for all is a hot topic lately in the news. Former President Barack Obama may have made a big difference in how Americans and lawmakers view single payer healthcare through a comment he recently made.

In a speech September 7 at the University of Illinois, former President Barack Obama lent new credence to Medicare for All by calling it “a good idea.” Though the concept dates as far back at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bernie Sanders has been proposing a single payer healthcare system, in which the current Medicare benefit would extend to people of all ages.

Barack Obama supports Medicare for All

With Obama’s support, Medicare for All, also called single-payer health insurance or a “public option”, could become more mainstream.

Obama remarked in his speech that the reason the Medicare for All is hard to grapple with is that we are not starting from scratch. In 2009 Obama said, “If I were starting a system from scratch then I think that the idea of moving toward a single-payer system could very well make sense.”

The U.S. already has a system that supposedly works, and starting over seems daunting. But the reality is that most other developed countries (Britain, France, and Germany, for example) have similar single payer healthcare systems that work well. In these countries, people pay less for health insurance and get better results overall.

Bernie Sanders tweets his thanks

After  Obama’s recent remarks, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Thank you President Obama for supporting Medicare for All. His support takes us another step toward ensuring that no one in the richest country in the history of the world has to forego health care because they cannot afford it.”

For many years the concept of single-payer healthcare has been seen as a pipe dream. But it is coming closer into focus as a possibility.

Medicare for all: the numbers

According to a June 2017 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans support single-payer healthcare, in which health care is provided by a single entity.

The House’s Medicare for All Act, HR 676, had 38 co-sponsors in 2003, and now has 123 lawmakers supporting it. Bernie Sanders’ Senate bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has 16 co-sponsors.

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