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Reader's view: Medicare is appreciated

I am a family physician working at a community clinic in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, and I am very happy to be celebrating Medicare's 50th birthday at the end of this month.

I am a family physician working at a community clinic in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, and I am very happy to be celebrating Medicare’s 50th birthday at the end of this month.
As most of us know, Medicare covers our senior citizens and people with disabilities. My patients can get all the care they need from my clinic and the hospital if they need it. They don’t have to worry about not being able to afford the care or being left with large copays or deductibles. Medicare also covers the costs of skilled nursing homes and hospice. And just this spring, Congress got rid of a bad reimbursement program for physicians (called SGRs), so doctors are being paid more fairly. Besides physicians and hospitals, most Americans support Medicare - 77 percent do, according to recent polling. And Medicare works efficiently. It spends 96 percent of its revenue on health services, compared to just 8 percent allowed to private health insurers.
I’m very grateful for Medicaid, too, which also is celebrating a 50-year anniversary. Medicaid covers my patients whose incomes are too low to afford private insurance. With the Affordable Care Act, another 30 percent of lower-income people became eligible for Medicaid. That really helps my patients and my clinic.
Another successful program is MinnesotaCare, which subsidizes people with incomes just above the Medicaid threshold. On a personal note, I have four children who, as young adults, are helped greatly since our family insurance now covers them to age 26.
I extend appreciation for these important government insurance programs and for the good politicians who believe it’s important for everyone to have health coverage. I hope it doesn’t take another 50 years for Minnesota and the U.S. to bring everyone into affordable health care. I’d support Medicare for all.
Dr. Chris Reif
Minneapolis

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