In Congressional campaigns across the country, many incumbent Democrats and challengers in Republican districts are rebelling against problems in the health care system and are pushing a Medicare for All plan that would be simpler and cut out private insurance costs. The plan would also allow for negotiations on prescription drug prices. The failure to allow negotiation of drug costs for Medicare is a reflection of the campaign contributions of pharmaceutical companies.
In recent days the Trump Administration has indicated it will seek to further de-stabilize health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by refusing to defend in court provisions that protect patients with pre-existing from being denied coverage. Previously Trump rejected the individual mandate to have coverage which has led to increases in insurance premiums in the ACA.
While Trump as a candidate said he was not going to cut Medicare, his actions with the ACA harm Medicare because some uncompensated hospital costs will come from Medicare since there may be more people without health insurance. The recent report in early June by the Medicare Trustees reported that Medicare is now likely to not be able to pay its full costs in 2026, three years earlier than last year’s report. Higher payments to Medicare Advantage plans and for ever increasing drug costs also are stretching Medicare finances.
The Trump economic plan says that the major tax cut enacted will increase employment and lead to higher wages that will benefit Social Security and Medicare. In other words, the program’s finances will be resolved by increased economic growth. That has not happened so far and a huge federal budget deficit will likely result instead, increasing political pressure to cut both programs.
So, the fall election pits two diametrically opposed ideas: Medicare for All vs. the Republican House plan to turn Medicare into a fixed voucher plan, shifting more costs to beneficiaries. Candidates for Congress need to be challenged on where they stand on the future of Medicare and Social Security. They are the two pillars which stand against income inequality in older age especially, and it is critical that they be preserved and strengthened for beneficiaries.