LaPORTE – Rather than being diverted with esoteric debates about how many trillions of tax dollars a “Medicare for All” plan would entail, doesn’t it make more sense to see what can be done about protecting the Affordable Care Act from attacks and getting to universal coverage in other ways?

While advocates of Medicare for All are certainly well-intentioned, undue attention is being paid to plans such as that which have little to no chance of passage by this Congress or any other in the near future. When one considers that the Affordable Care Act passed with just one vote to spare and is now under unceasing attack on multiple fronts including by our own Indiana attorney general, it would seem a more productive use of time and political capital to protect what has already been gained.

With 400,000 additional Hoosiers are now covered under HIP 2.0 that was made possible by the Medicaid expansion of ACA, why jeopardize that by allowing critics to assail Medicare for All? Why not fight to protect the ACA with its pre-existing conditions protections and better coverage for those with serious and chronic conditions?

The ACA has now gained popular support that would be immensely difficult to build for Medicare for All. Between expanded Medicaid, the individual market exchanges and employer-based insurance, we’re at least a step closer to universal coverage which is what advocates of Medicare for All say they’re trying to achieve.

As a political strategy, it seems foolish to advocate throwing out the ACA that took decades to achieve. If anything, it needs to be protected and strengthened along with Medicaid and Medicare rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water and starting over. Look at the GOP’s unsuccessful effort to repeal or replace the ACA – it’s because of the broad public approval the Act now enjoys.

As Ron Pollack of Families USA wrote back in September, there are several paths to universal coverage. While single payer, Medicare for All, is one of them, it’s not the only one. Plus, as New York Magazine put quite well in an article on September 13, 2017, “a single payer plan would be nice, in a world that looks nothing like the one we inhabit.”

The Washington Post put it well when it backed the goal of universal coverage in an editorial on April 8 of this year when it wrote that “we should focus on increasing the number of Americans with comprehensive health insurance and lowering costs. We need to be pragmatic on tactics and focused most of all on making a positive difference in as many people’s lives as possible.”

This is one of those issues where some of my liberal friends may push moderate voters away by stressing purity to a Medicare for All model. If we can get to universal coverage by expanding Medicaid, shoring up the private exchanges and keeping in place employer-based insurance, why not do that?

Let’s not give Republicans the opportunity to campaign against Democrats by touting the massive expense of Medicare for All plans when it’s far more important right now to protect those parts of the ACA that are under attack and deserve protection like coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
]Republicans have lost the debate on the ACA and they are looking for some new ways to attack Democrats by claiming massive tax hikes and bureaucratic nightmares under a Medicare for All plan.

Let’s not give them what they want.  Instead, let’s take the fight to them. 
Shaw Friedman is a LaPorte attorney who has represented various local governmental entities during his 34 years of law practice in Northwest Indiana.