Medicare for all

To the Editor:

Thank you for your recent series about poverty in McHenry County.

As your reporters ably demonstrated, financial instability leads to overwhelming challenges in securing housing, food and transportation. Many among us suffer in silence.

Health care for the poor is another dimension warranting comment. Fortunately, the new Affordable Care Act will help some of our neighbors in need. Under the ACA, community clinics are expanding. Medicaid eligibility has been broadened.

Yet there also are problems. Those near the poverty line who do not qualify for financial aid now are obligated to take out health-insurance policies. In order to hold costs down, many people will select bare-bones plans.

For some, this will be completely counterproductive. They will pay premiums, yet they will receive no benefits because of high deductibles. Worse, this added financial demand will come on top of the everyday struggle to put food on the table and shoes on the kids.

In short, health care for some of the working poor might become a hollow promise. Under the ACA, it exists in concept. But from a practical standpoint, it may not exist in fact.

There's a better approach. The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676) now is before the Congress. Although unlikely to pass soon, it points the way.

We hope that someday, every American – poor and rich alike – will have comprehensive health-care coverage. Let us embrace the best of the ACA, and carry it forward to a Medicare for all program.

Carol Krohm and Scott K. Summers

Harvard