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US Senate Candidate Savage Calls for Medicare For All to Protect US Residents’ Health and Economic Security in Face of COVID Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday April 13, 2020

For more info: Sam Pfeifle 207-749-0298 sampfeifle@gmail.com @SamPfeifle

Today Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine, released the following statement calling for an immediate transition to an improved Medicare for All single-payer health insurance system, in response to the massive crisis in the U.S. health care system:

“What was already a simmering health care crisis has been brought to a rolling boil by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed the crisis in the U.S. health care system and the urgent need for an improved Medicare for All health insurance system to ensure that all U.S. residents are able to get medical care when they get sick, with no exceptions,” said Savage.

“The current market-based system, with 87 million uninsured or underinsured people unable to see a doctor when they need to, is not only immoral, but a public health disaster. This sick system has left us uniquely vulnerable to a pandemic among wealthy countries. Nothing exposes the folly of tying health care to employment more than 17 million Americans losing their jobs during a global pandemic.

“In response to the crisis, Congress should act immediately to enroll all currently uninsured U.S. residents in Medicare, pass protections for workers that include paid sick leave, create medical sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, and eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 testing and treatment. These measures are needed now, but the only sustainable permanent solution is an improved Medicare for All single-payer health insurance program that will cover all U.S. residents for all needed care. Medicare for All will also eliminate out-of-pocket costs, cover all communities’ medical needs, fully fund public health programs, and create the capacity for a unified response to national health crises.

“Countries with single-payer systems were able to react much more effectively than the U.S. to the COVID pandemic. South Korea, which had its first diagnosis on the same day the U.S. did, quickly contained the pandemic with widespread free testing. As of today, South Korea has 217 reported COVID deaths while the U.S. has 22,850, an outbreak over 100 times worse. Public health officials widely agree the true COVID impact is greater still.

“Countless U.S. COVID patients have been unable to get tested or get medical care. This has exposed the immorality and irrationality of for-profit healthcare, with even many of the most committed opponents of universal healthcare bowing to the need for free COVID testing. But why should people who get sick with other life-threatening diseases have to pay outrageous amounts to private insurance companies just to stay alive? Even before the pandemic, a study published in world-renowned medical journal The Lancet found that a single-payer system would save over 68,000 lives per year. 

“Medicare for All would not only cover far more people and produce better health outcomes, it would actually save money compared to current U.S. health care spending. The Lancet study estimates annual savings of roughly 13%, more than $450 billion dollars. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that bureaucracy consumes a total of 31 percent of U.S. health spending, with private insurance company overhead and profit responsible for much of the waste. It’s clear that with improved Medicare for All, the vast majority of U.S. residents would be spending less for better health care.

“As the economy suffers a huge downturn, worsened by the failure of the government and for-profit health care to respond effectively to the pandemic, the pre-existing problem of U.S. residents losing their life savings in medical emergencies will get much worse. In the last three weeks, 10% of U.S. workers -- almost 17 million people -- have filed for unemployment. More than seven million are expected to lose their health insurance during the pandemic, while more than 1.5 million are already estimated to have lost coverage, according to a study published April 7 in the prestigious academic journal Annals of Internal Medicine. With so many U.S. residents’ health insurance tied to employment, without Medicare for All we’re heading for a devastating health care crisis amid the economic crisis.

“The good news is that a March 2020 Morning Consult poll shows that 55% of U.S. voters now support Medicare for All. I stand with the majority in calling for a health care system that puts people over insurance corporations’ profits.”

Find information about Lisa Savage, her policy positions, background, and how to support her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org.

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