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5 Ways to Save Medicare

Medicare for all
The best way to save the floundering Medicare is to expand it, claim supporters of a single-payer national health system.

Among the key proponents for "Medicare for All" are Reps. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Their push, undiminished since such a plan was rejected during health care reform debates, would, as presented in an open letter to constituents and Congress, "provide all Americans with health care that would allow access to the doctor of choice without premiums, co-pays or deductibles."

Their call has been supported by such groups as the 18,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program. That group claims a single-payer health program would "cover all 51 million uninsured, upgrade everyone's benefits and save $400 billion annually on bureaucracy."

Earlier this year, the group lent its support to the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which would "replace today's private health insurers -- and the Obama law's individual mandate, which is being challenged as unconstitutional -- with a single, streamlined public agency that would pay all medical claims, much like Medicare works for seniors today."

"There's no doubt that expanding Medicare to all is both constitutional and the most cost-effective way to cover everyone," sys Dr. Garrett Adams, president of Physicians for a National Health Program. "A national single-payer program would save over $400 billion a year on bureaucracy and paperwork alone. Plus, it would use proven, effective cost-control techniques like negotiating drug prices and hospital budgets."

Raise taxes
One idea floated to bail out medicare, as well as Social Security, is as simple as it is bound to be unpopular: raise taxes.

Such a call would surely not be supported by Republicans who, following the Ryan plan, would nevertheless call for "means testing" -- limiting or eliminating the benefits the wealthiest could recoup via Medicare.

Among the more controversial tax measures touted for deficit reduction and the preservation of entitlement programs was a 0.25% tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments. Such a tax, proponents say, could raise as much as $150 billion annually.

While the Ryan plan promotes further tax breaks for high earners, it does call for means testing that would limit the ability of the wealthiest families to participate in the Medicare program equally with lower-income families.

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