(CBS) — It’s the phrase that has been dominating the Democratic, Presidential primary race thus far: “Medicare For All.”
Currently, 44 million Americans receive Medicare benefits. That’s 15% of the population. Medicare was enacted back in 1965 and provided health insurance to people over the age of 65. Prior to the legislation, it was difficult for people over 65 to find medical insurance coverage.
And now, some politicians believe the time has come to ensure everyone in America has medical insurance, basically “Medicare For All.”
If adopted, the “Medicare For All” plan could in effect do away with all types of private, medical insurance and put everyone under a government run insurance program.
According to a recent CBS News Battleground Tracker poll 56% of Democratic voters polled said they were in favor of “Medicare For All.”
At least 12 of the current Democratic candidates for President either support current “Medicare For All” bills or are in favor of major components of the bills.
Senator Bernie Sanders has the first presidential candidate to push the “Medicare For All” movement. He made the case for his plan in a recent conversation with CBS News Political Correspondent Ed O’Keefe.
“Medicare today is the most popular health insurance program in the country, it needs improvement, but seniors in this country like it and appreciate it,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “We should expand that program to all of our people and when we do that we’re going to save the average American substantial amounts of money in terms of how much he or she pays for healthcare.”
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been leading the opposition to “Medicare For All” within the party. At the last Presidential debate he said the current system just needs to be tweaked.
“I think the Obamacare worked,” said Biden. “I think the way â€” we add to it, replace everything that’s been cut, add a public option, guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable insurance.”
Critics of “Medicare For All” movement point out that the current Medicare system has been plagued with a history of costly fraud.
Earlier this year federal authorities announced criminal charges in a $1.2 billion fraud case where organizers of the scheme were prescribing unnecessary medical equipment like back and leg braces and then billing Medicare. And, according to the Department of Justice, in 2018 alone, they prosecuted $27 million in False Claim Act violations.
So, this begs the questions: If Medicare becomes even larger and insures the majority of Americans will its administration be able to detect and defer fraud?
More on this story, Friday at 10 p.m.