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Enact Medicare for All

 

“We always ask why the richest country in the world doesn't have excellent affordable universal healthcare. Let me say once and for all that we all know the answer. It is because corporations and the ultra-wealthy control policy in Washington -- and this needs to end.”

- Zak Ringelstein -

 

There is no excuse for why the richest country in the world has forced millions of people to live in fear about their next medical bill or trip to the hospital. No one should wonder how they are going to pay for medicine that would save their lives and pharmaceutical lobbyists need to stop standing in the way of making Americans healthier. The Affordable Care Act has increased the percentage of Americans covered by insurance and ensured that people with preexisting conditions can’t be taken advantage of. However, it still doesn’t work well for all Americans and we deserve better.

We believe that health care is a right and that a prosperous country has a healthy citizenry. Therefore we believe Medicare, a single-payer system that has proven itself over the course of many decades, should be implemented universally. Medicare For All legislation will be my top priority because no Mainer should pay the cost of a second mortgage just to get the insurance they need to make sure their family can remain healthy.

This is not just the right thing to do; it will also stimulate our economy and spend our taxpayer dollars more efficiently. We would pay for it by cutting waste in billing departments and insurance administration, ending an era when hospitals overcharge for routine procedures and supplies, eliminating two insurance subsidies, and adjusting the Medicare tax (split between employers and employees) to meet the needs of the bill.

With rural hospitals shutting down and vital medical departments closing at record rates in the midst of an opioid crisis that disproportionately affects rural communities, any Medicare For All bill should include subsidies for existing rural hospitals, money for new ones, and financial incentives for top doctors to work in these areas. Hospitals must not be rewarded for more sickness, but for more health. Hospital administration should be incentivized by creating a healthier community and therefore America should adopt global budgeting: a single-line budget solution for hospitals.

Fighting the opioid epidemic requires a joint emergency response on the local, state and national levels of government that starts with getting pharmaceutical companies out of Washington. Individuals and families affected need wrap-around support from health care services, mental health providers, faith centers, and community groups. Mainers need support groups and increased access to overdose-reversing treatment, which requires more certified providers. To prevent this crisis from continuing, we need laws that prevent pharmaceutical companies from taking advantage of people's lives for profit, better training and laws for doctors prescribing opioids, more funding for scientific research on how best to treat addiction, and large-scale public education efforts.