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Medicare for Children No. 173

Adopted 2004
Amended 2005

ADA has been committed to a National Health Service since 1972 and continues to promote federally supported, universal, comprehensive health coverage, specifically a single payer National Health Service which is population based and extends across state lines.

However, given the present political climate, such a National Health System is not likely to be enacted in the immediate future. Therefore, in the same way that current Medicare was a large step forward in 1965, we seek other steps that will assist our most vulnerable populations.

We believe that the expansion of Medicare to all children offers a singular opportunity to provide quality care to a significant portion of the population and substantially reduce the long-term cost of health care.

Analogous to current Medicare, the system ADA proposes that we develop should:

  1. Provide a single financing mechanism free of means-testing, for all children up to the age of 18, and for all women seeking prenatal care;

  2. Provide comprehensive care for well and sick children, including immunization, periodic screening and dental care, and other pediatric services for children and adolescents with chronic illness;

  3. Provide for free choice of care by individual physicians, or neighborhood health centers, depending on the specific needs of the community being served.

  4. And, be funded by a graduated income tax.

The advantages of Medicare for Children include:

  1. Complete health care for all children, eliminating current confusion arising from several different programs each with different eligibility and coverage.

  2. An efficient payment system, at a cost of no more than two or three percent of claims, in contrast to private insurance costs that are frequently twenty or twenty-five percent and, in particular companies, reach thirty-eight or forty-five percent. Thus Medicare for Children would recapture money now wasted in the health care system.

  3. Bringing women seeking prenatal care to the physician early, which would lead to well-documented improvements in health, fewer premature births, and a reduction in the significant costs associated with premature birth.

In addition the introduction of Medicare for Children legislation would provide a rallying point that allows people to mobilize against proposals to cut Medicare. It would curtail "for profit" control of health care. It would reduce costs for employers now providing health care benefits for dependents of workers. And, as children are a politically attractive group garnering the attention of a wide range of advocacy organizations, it is politically feasible.

The case for universal health care for children and women seeking prenatal care is both clear and compelling as well as an idea whose time has come. We join with those who champion it as the next logical step in the continuing struggle for universal, high quality, efficient and low-cost health care.

Once the country sees how successful Medicare for children is, then it will be ready to champion a single payer system of some type for everyone. The population based health plan previously proposed by ADA, which extends across state lines would provide a rational choice.

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No. 173