Medicare for anyone who wants it

March 16, 2010 | By | 6 Replies More

Representative Alan Grayson is pushing hard for Medicare for anyone who wants to buy into the program. It’s a four page bill. It’s understandable. The framework is already set up for implementing it. It is cost-effective. Grayson sent me this mass-distributed email for further explanation.

Dear Erich,

72 hours. 66 cosponsors in the House. 21,254 citizen cosponsors at

The Public Option Act. It’s simple. It’s popular. 82% of Scott Brown voters favor it. It lets anyone buy into Medicare at cost. You want it, you pay for it, and you’re in.

You know and I know that it’s a winner.

Private insurers make money denying us the care we need, when we need it most. Medicare doesn’t. So we want Medicare. And we want it now.

Ask your Member of Congress to stand up for us. Call your member of Congress now, and ask him or her to cosponsor HR 4789, the Public Option Act.

Call the switchboard: (202) 224-3121

After you call, please let me know how it went. I need to know if your Representative is with us or against us. Tell me how it goes.

This is the week to act. We are likely to vote on a healthcare bill without a public option. We should get a vote on the Public Option Act as well. The four-page bill opens Medicare to all. It’s that simple.

Call your member of Congress now, and ask if he or she has the guts to stand up for you.

Call the switchboard: (202) 224-3121



Why do we need the public option program Grayson suggests?  Because we currently and needlessly have a for-profit health insurance industry that provides the insureds no benefit for a big chunk of the premiums they pay.   Grayson recently explained at Huffpo:

Health insurance companies charge as much money as possible, and they provide as little care as possible. The difference is called profit. You can’t blame them for it; that’s what a corporation does. Birds got to fly, fish got to swim, health insurers got to rip you off. And if you get really expensive, they’ve got to pull the plug on you. So for those of us who would like to stay alive, we need a public option.  In many areas of the country, one or two insurers have over 80% of the market. They can charge anything they want. And when you get sick, they can flip the bird at you. So we need a public option.


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Category: Health Care Reform

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Why I admire Alan Grayson | Dangerous Intersection | March 24, 2010
  1. Erich Vieth says:

    President Obama made a backroom deal last summer with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    For comparison, a bill currently being considered by congress is 2,300 pages long.….

  3. NIklaus Pfirsig says:

    The reasons the house bill is so large is that it is comprehensive and contains language that specifically targets various abuses of medicare by corporations. This is not only limited to insurance companies, but also to such practices as "dumping" by corporate employers who, rather than contribute to a private health-care benefit plan for their employees, they employ part timers, and used medicare and medicaid waiver programs for medical coverage, effectively using the public option to subsidize their payroll and increase profits. This practice is is so unethical on so many levels it is difficult to describe, but is a common corporate strategy in the fast food and discount retail industries.

    The remedy for dumping in the bill is to levy additional taxes to corporations who dump their employees as a means of recouping the additional cost as well as a disincentive to corporations.

    This is just one example for the reason why the house bill is so complex. A better strategy however would be to pass specific simpler bills that address individual problems such as medical repricing by insurers, "dead peasant" insurance, and standards for a national medical record database instead of a comprehensive package that tries to fix everything in one fell swoop.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus: I assume that the big package gets more overall consensus, since most folks can find something they like in a big complex bill. I do like many of the features in the Obama proposal (as described on the White House site). I would not leave the payment system in the hands of for-profit insurers, however. There's not need to scoop profits off of these hard earned premium dollars. We'll see if Congress has the guts to rip the antitrust exemption from the health insurers. We'll also see whether we as a nation can have a rational discussion about the most financially efficient ways to promote overall health. Many countries have better health (broadly defined) than the U.S. but they spend a lot less money achieving this.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Alan Grayson on DemocracyNow:

    I’ve introduced a simple three-and-a-half-page bill that opens up Medicare to anybody who wants it. If you want it and you pay for it, it’s yours. It’s that simple. It’s open to everybody under the age of sixty-five, whether or not you’re handicapped. And you pay the same amount as other people your age would pay.

    And the reason to do this is because we need a public option. We need an option that doesn’t involve putting us at the tender mercies of insurance companies, particularly if there’s a mandate to do so. A lot of people feel that there is a fundamental conflict of interest between themselves and private insurance companies. The private insurance companies make money by denying you the care that you need to be healthy, and sometimes to stay alive. And a lot of people are just sick of it.

    So the way to get beyond that is to open up Medicare, which is now available to only one-eighth of the population, to anybody who’s willing to pay for it. And it makes perfect sense when you think about it. I mean, we don’t say the federal highways are only open to senior citizens. And the Medicare provider network is an enormously valuable, expensive thing that we’ve created with federal tax dollars that ought to be open to everyone, not just seniors.

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