New bill offers “Medicare for more”

We won’t get “Medicare for everyone” in the current healthcare bill, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich may vote “no” because of that. And we may not even get a public option–even a watered-down version. But Kucinich’s basic premise of expanding Medicare–an idea that has been variously ignored, vilified and even laughed-at–refuses to die.  After all, Medicare (along with the Veterans Administration health care program) is a government-run program that works–with lower overhead costs and higher customer satisfaction that almost any privately run healthcare insurance program.

So, if we can’t get Medicare for all, how about “Medicare for more?”  That’s what Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is proposing in a bill he introduced on Tuesday. He calls his bill, H.R. 4789, the “Public Option Act,” and he’s also calling it the “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act.”  The bill would allow all legal residents under 65 to enroll in Medicare by paying a fee.

Grayson’s approach offers a “workaround” for the absence of a public option in the much larger healthcare reform bill currently up for grabs in Congress. It’s a small step forward, in the spirit of the great incrementalist, Teddy Kennedy. It deserves consideration.

According to The Raw Story, Grayson introduced his bill by saying:

“The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’  It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair.  This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote. America needs a public option. That’s why I’ve introduced this bill. I say to those people on the other side of the aisle, if you don’t want to buy into the public option, but don’t prevent me and my family and the ones who I love from doing the same. Let us have our alternative.”