Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 1, 2009


New America Media - Medicare for all -- not only for those 65 and over -- appears to be the answer to dramatically reducing the level of poorer health among African American, Latino and low-income Americans, say researchers at Harvard University in research published in the April 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Their research team, led by J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., Ph.D., sifted through medical data for 6,000 people ages 40 to 85 with diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They tracked their conditions from 1999 to 2006.

The researchers found that despite overall improvements in controlling the diseases, black, Hispanic and poor patients under 65 -- those not yet old enough for Medicare -- fared no better, or got worse.

However, at age 65, when people become eligible for Medicare coverage, the differences in health by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status declined significantly.

McWilliams and his colleagues note American healthcare providers have engaged in widespread efforts in recent years to enhance medical quality. "However," they wrote, "quality of care may not necessarily lead to more equitable care, especially if improvements occur among providers who serve fewer disadvantaged patients . . . "

McWilliams and his coauthors points to universal health care coverage as a likely means of reducing health disparities in the United States. They conclude that "expanding insurance coverage before age 65 years may reduce racial, ethnic and socioeconomic differences in important health outcomes" for those coping with diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

Common Dreams - In an unprecedented initiative, the leaders of four prominent groups in the 111th Congress - the Progressive Caucus, the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and the Asian Pacific American Caucus - have sent a joint letters to President Obama and the Democratic Leadership of the House and Senate stressing that "our support for enacting legislation this year to guarantee affordable health care for all firmly hinges on the inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare."

Together, one hundred seventeen Members of the House and Senate belong to at least one of these four congressional caucuses. . . .

"As the debate on health care moves forward, we stand together with one voice for the communities that most need this reform," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Chairwoman of the 24-Member CHC. "With one out of every three Hispanics in our country likely to be uninsured and with so many Latino small business owners, we have to provide all Americans with the choice of a public health insurance plan."

"The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide universal health care," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. "In a nation with 46 million uninsured individuals, it is time we put in place high quality comprehensive care for all."


Anonymous Mairead said...

It's been repeatedly documented that members of low-status groups (non-Whites, handicapped, etc) pay the same as privileged groups but don't get the same level of care.

If that changes when Medicare is the payer, the key factors need to be investigated closely. The studies have shown that physicians do discriminate against people of low status. So why don't they continue discriminating when Medicare pays? What happens to change their behavior?

Or is it that there are 2 sources of discrimination, and people's health gets better when Medicare kicks in because one of those sources - the for-profit parasites - is out of the picture?

May 2, 2009 10:50 AM  

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