Tags: reid | obamacare | single | payer

Reid: Obamacare 'Step in Right Direction' Toward Single-Payer

Sunday, 11 Aug 2013 10:35 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The nation needs to "work our way past" needing insurance to access healthcare and toward a single-payer national plan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

Reid, appearing on a Las Vegas PBS program "Nevada Week in Review," said he thinks the Obamacare-approved insurance plans, which will be offered through new healthcare exchanges in about seven weeks, will eventually become obsolete, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

"What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever," the Nevada Democrat said Friday.

In 2009, when Reid was negotiating Obamacare, the idea of having a single-payer system was pushed aside by opponents, but Reid claims the idea had its supporters as well.

"We had a real good run at the public option … don’t think we didn't have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system," Reid said.

However, then-Sen. Joe Lieberman and others opposed the public-option idea, and eventually, Reid decided the single-player plan wouldn't get a majority of Senate votes.

The country hasn't been able to work its way out of employer-backed health insurance, which became prominent after the post-World War II labor negotiations in the auto industry, Reid said.

While putting healthcare under the complete control of the government is opposed by many people, one study released Friday indicates the country could save $592 billion in 2014 alone if Medicare paid for everybody's medical needs.

But the study, performed by Dr. Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at UMASS Amherst, said in order to switch the country to Medicare, taxes will need to be raised on the top 5 percent of income earners, as well on capital gains, stock trading, and other key items,reports EHR Intelligence, a top online resource concerning electronic health records.

"A single-payer system would reduce barriers to access for the currently insured by eliminating burdensome co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket spending for medical care," argued Friedman. "It would eliminate inequity in the treatment of less-affluent patients by paying providers the same fee for each patient regardless of income or employment."

But physicians are not likely to support such a move. Three times more doctors are refusing Medicare patients than three years ago, many citing Medicare's increasing rules and lowered payment rates.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the program, even doctors who still see some Medicare patients are limiting the number of Medicare patients they will treat.

The declines are in addition to the growing number of doctors who won't accept new Medicaid patients, and come just as millions of Americans are poised to become eligible for coverage under Obamacare.

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