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On our rundown today: Trump says there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday; a Minnesota church leader urges people to stand up against hate groups; and civil rights groups are outraged over the potential pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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Is There a Future for 'Medicare for All' Plan?

Some physicians say the legislation known as "Medicare For All" would provide better health coverage and benefits for Americans. (designer491/iStockphoto)
Some physicians say the legislation known as "Medicare For All" would provide better health coverage and benefits for Americans. (designer491/iStockphoto)
March 31, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - With Republicans trying to resuscitate their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, the debate in Arkansas and elsewhere over how to fix the health-care system is heating up again.

While partisan divides remain deep, Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, said the failure of the American Health Care Act presents a unique opportunity for President Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits by moving beyond for-profit models.

"America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system," Pearson said. "It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right."

Pearson said the Medicare for All Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would provide coverage to all Americans by expanding Medicare, the single-payer program already in place for people age 65 and older. Critics have said the move would be too costly, but research has shown most U.S. households would pay less than the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

Pearson, while not a fan of the ill-fated "Trumpcare" proposal, noted that the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He said a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.

"There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance; there would be very small co-pays," he said, "and so nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill."

Even though more people have insurance since the rollout of the ACA, Pearson said, nearly 2 million Americans go bankrupt each year because of health-care expenses. A National Day of Action calling for universal health care is set for April 8, the first day of the congressional recess.

The Conyers bill's text is online at congress.gov, and an analysis is at pnhp.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR