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Forty-six percent of adults report they have not heard of a health policy proposal called "Medicare for All," according to researchers at the University of Chicago.

Forty percent say they’ve heard some talk about Medicare for All, and 13 percent say they have heard a lot about it. The idea has come to mean different things to different people. When politicians talk about Medicare for All, they don’t define the specific parameters of health policy they support. The policy is poorly understood, particularly about costs and funding, since there has been at least seven different bills introduced in Congress to expand Medicare coverage in the last three years. Consequently, “Medicare for All” is a term that means something different to everyone.

That’s why it’s hard for the public to understand how it would work. Two common questions are, “Who is eligible, and would it be optional or mandatory?” When asked about concerns, the two main questions were about out-of-pocket costs and what benefits are covered. Forty-nine percent of people believe it would reduce patient costs and 44 percent believe it would increase costs. Washington Rep. Pramela Jayapal, Chairperson of the Rules and Budget Committee in Congress, has been designated as the lead person advocating for HR-676, Expanded and improved Medicare for All policy legislatively. Since health care is one of the leading policy concerns for the upcoming 2020 election, it is imperative that American citizens become more familiar with, and more conversant about health care reform.

The ACA has proven to be good for millions of Americans, but not the best we can do in policy. Urgently, it is time now for Americans to put on their learning hats and upgrade their knowledge about this important socio-economic phenomenon called health policy. 

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Richard A. Damon, MD

Bozeman

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