Is Rep. Ferguson asking the wrong question?

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019

By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive. 

Rep. Ferguson recently emailed a survey to people on his mailing list. It contained only one question: “Do you support Medicare for All and an end to employer-provided insurance?” There are several things wrong with this survey. First of all, it’s not a representative sample. Activist, very conservative GOP members are more likely to be on the Congressman’s email list.

More importantly, previously done reputable surveys have shown that while a majority (56 percent) of the American public is generally supportive of Medicare for all, support drops when citizens are told that this means doing away with their current insurance plan (KFF, 1-19).

Ferguson knows people are afraid of change and that is exactly why his question was phrased in this specific way, to elicit a negative response. As Ferguson knows, there are a multitude of other Medicare expansion proposals that would not require anyone to switch from private insurance to Medicare. Here are some other questions he could have asked (with KFF’s national survey results): Should we allow people 50-64 to buy into Medicare? (77 percent favorable) Should we create a Medicare plan covering anyone, but permitting employees to maintain their existing plan? (73 percent favorable)

Frankly, my Medicare coverage when combined with my supplemental AARP policy is far better than the insurance I had previously as a Republican Jasper County Commissioner. If Medicare were accepted by virtually all providers, and it would be under a single payer situation, I strongly believe that the American public would be much happier than they are now. And, that should be our clear goal, if not something done on day one of a Democratic administration. However, in order to get to home plate, sometimes you need to hit a couple of doubles. If the American public wants to implement Medicare for All in steps, starting with those over 50, fine. Other age groups can be added over time. However, the exact steps must be spelled out in detail within the legislation.

Frankly, we are getting to the point of no return where either we make this health insurance financing move or healthcare costs will kill the rest of our economy. When I was director of health planning for Georgia in the 1970s, the proportion of GNP for healthcare ran less than half what it does now. That means there is less money to spend on other priorities like roads, bridges, mass transit and education. Other nations are eating our lunch while we just watch.

Now is the time for us to make the first move, Rep. Ferguson. Not later. And, you and your GOP brethren have done nothing except advocate for abolishing the ACA, covering tens of millions of mostly working people. McConnell and Trump have absolutely no plan for healthcare reform, other than to falsely call the Democrats socialists.

Georgians, make your vote count in 2020. Vote against stalemate.