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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Letter: Extend Medicare to all

By Norm Luther, SPOKANE
Published: November 19, 2016, 6:00am

In 2009, all Republican and two Democratic senators killed Obamacare’s proposed “public option” that likely would have led to national single-payer health care. Although Obamacare has important health care improvements, significant reduction in costs won’t happen until health insurance companies lose control. Reintroducing this Medicare-for-all “public option” can lower costs while also increasing Obamacare’s improvements in coverage.

Canadian single-payer universal health care costs only 60 percent of the U.S. system, with better results (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.). Despite misleading ads by U.S. insurance companies, the Canadian system is also very popular. The evidence? When May 2011 elections gave Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper a conservative Parliamentary majority, guaranteeing passage of any conservative legislation, he immediately assured Canadians of no change in their single-payer system. Moreover, the late Tommy Douglas, who introduced the Canadian single-payer system in the 1960s, was accordingly voted all-time greatest Canadian in a 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation survey.

University of Toronto researchers said the U.S. could save $27.6 billion yearly by adopting Canada’s single-payer system (National Journal, Aug. 4, 2011). And a 2008 survey showed U.S. doctors supported a single-payer system by almost two to one: 59 to 32 percent (Reuters, March 31, 2008).

So let’s extend the popular Medicare to everyone!

We encourage readers to express their views about public issues. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for brevity and clarity. Limit letters to 200 words (100 words if endorsing or opposing a political candidate or ballot measure) and allow 30 days between submissions. Send Us a Letter