Last week, Medicaid turned 50 years old. Medicaid is the government-funded program that provides healthcare coverage to impoverished citizens, and has been working quite well for those enrolled for half a century. There are currently 70 million people enrolled in the program.

Medicare has also been around for 50 years, and in spite of what people like Jeb Bush tell us, the program is running fine, and the vast majority of the 55 million people enrolled in Medicare are happy with their coverage.

During the creation of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats fought desperately – for a while, at least – to include a public option for health insurance – a Medicare for all provision. This would have given people the choice to either go with a private industry for their insurance or purchase a plan from the federal government. Republicans hated this plan, and wanted people to go to private industry instead of the federal government, and the public option was killed. IT should be noted that when the public option was a part of the Affordable Care Act, almost 70% of the public supported the overall bill. As soon as the Medicare for all provision was stripped, approval of the legislation fell below 50%.

That’s because the public wants better options. We don’t want to be forced to use a private company, especially when it comes to health insurance companies that many feel have failed to live up to their part in terms of policy coverage. Rates change unexpectedly, some services are refused, co-pays and deductibles are confusing, and they were dropping people with no notice whatsoever. The Affordable Care Act fixed most of these problems, but it still isn’t enough.

The public still wants a public option, and there’s a reason why Republicans don’t want that to happen. And it’s the same reason why Republicans continue to attack programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

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