Talking Points for Writing Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds on COVID-19 and the Need for Medicare for All

Why write a letter to the editor or op-ed?

  • To amplify an issue and indicate it is pressing and must be addressed.
  • To educate readers and help debunk common myths that are blocking progress on that issue.
  • To show policymakers what’s on the minds of their constituents. Local lawmakers and members of Congress keep a close eye on the opinion sections of their hometown papers to help understand what people are concerned about.

Here are some tips on how to get printed:

  • Letters to the Editor are typically 150-250 words and op-eds are 500-700 words. 
  • They are more likely to be placed if you reference an article that appeared in the paper or a timely local story. 
  • Sharing your own personal story or fears in the face of the crisis can also make your piece compelling. 
  • If you’d like assistance in writing, editing, or submitting your letter to the editor or op-ed, send us an email. We’d be happy to help.

Talking Points

  • The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the pitfalls of our for-profit health care system.
    • Patients seeking a test have received “surprise” bills from their health insurance companies in the thousands of dollars. Surprise bills are those received by patients who have health insurance but through no fault of their own are cared for by a doctor or other medical provider who is not in the insurance company’s network. And given that the coronavirus may overload our health care system, it may be difficult to go to your preferred or in-network providers as the pandemic gets worse.
    • Patients with insurance must pay copays and deductibles for treatment. This may discourage patients from seeking testing or treatment and could mean they wait until they are sicker before seeking care.
    • COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are being developed with taxpayer money, but the government might give pharmaceutical companies monopoly protections that enable them to price gouge and impede access.
    • Because of the fragmented nature of the U.S. health care system, it is harder to track how rapidly coronavirus is spreading. Countries with a more unified system are better able to track the spread and intervene appropriately.
    • Private insurance companies are less willing to provide additional prescriptions to allow people to get a larger supply in case they end up needing to quarantine or there are drug shortages affecting critical life-sustaining drugs.
    • Our broken health care system means that Americans are sicker than peer countries, which means they are more susceptible to the coronavirus and may have less access to care for chronic conditions or other health issues that could be exacerbated by coronavirus.
    • As tens of millions face unemployment due to pending coronavirus recession, they also face losing their employer-based health insurance just when they need it most. This demonstrates just how cruel and nonsensical it is to tie health insurance to employment.
  • Our elected officials must respond to the current crisis.
    • To stem this public health emergency, treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus must be made available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
    • The federal government must intervene to require that all private insurance providers eliminate any out-of-pocket costs for both testing and treatment.
    • Medicare and other public insurance programs, and all comprehensive private insurance plans, must cover appropriate testing, treatment and vaccines, with no deductibles or copays.
    • The federal government must appropriate funds to pay health care providers so that anyone without insurance, or those in short-term insurance plans, can obtain appropriate testing, treatment and vaccines at no charge.
  • We must learn from this experience.  Now more than ever it is clear that we need Medicare for All.
    • Medicare for All would ensure that everyone who needs treatment gets it – regardless of their ability to pay.
    • Already, a third of Americans report that they or a family member avoided going to the doctor when sick or injured in the past year due to cost, meaning that many Americans put off care rather than risk medical debt and even bankruptcy just to get the care they need. Earlier treatment would reduce the need for more expensive care later.
    • Medicare for All would improve the scope of coverage for everyone, including those receiving Medicare; cover 30 million uninsured; give people full choice of doctor; and eliminate copays, deductibles and other fees.
    • Studies (including a recent study from the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank) have found the potential for trillions of dollars of savings over the next decade under Medicare for All.