Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and other Democratic lawmakers said Congress should approve the creation of a single-payer national healthcare system in America.
“We still have unfinished business,” Conyers said at a forum titled “Medicare at 50: A Cost-Effective and Compassionate Model.”
“The millions of Americans that still lack health insurance are a stark reminder of the work we still have ahead of us to ensure that healthcare is available to all,” he added.
Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which requires every citizen to purchase health insurance, Conyers said tens of millions of Americans remain uninsured. Conyers, the lead sponsor of the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” said a national single payer healthcare system could fix the problem.
“We would extend the benefits of Medicare to all Americans regardless of health status, wealth or age,” he said. “We must finally join the rest of the industrial world and make healthcare a fundamental right for all in the United States of America. We’re going to do that.”
Conyers, the last serving member of Congress to vote for the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, said many senior citizens would have suffered financial hardships and “died prematurely” without Medicare.
“You can tell me — I don’t look like it, but I’m the dean of the Congress,” he quipped. “Few can deny that Medicare has brought untold benefits to older Americans.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who said he supports a single-payer system, said Medicare has allowed Americans to innovate.
“What happens in America is you can try, you can fail, you can try again, and we know that when you can no longer work or if you are disabled, we’re not going to let you die,” Lieu, a co-sponsor of Conyers’ bill, said at the forum.
“We’re going to give you healthcare. We’re going to give you Social Security and this gives you an immense amount of freedom for our populations to do what we need to do to compete in the 21st century. Medicare is an amazing program. My parents rely on it. There’s no way I’m going to touch it. I want to expand it,” he added.