High-quality health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege dependent on occupation, age, gender, race, mobility, address, or income. The only responsible — and affordable — solution to America's health care crisis is a Medicare For All (single-payer) national health care program.
As the founder and owner of several small businesses in New York, I have found the expense and uncertainty of health care coverage to be the most significant burden on my business, more significant than either taxes or regulations. Insurance premiums have been increasing 10-15 percent per year (both pre- and post-ACA), and the number of services that are covered keeps dropping. I know other small employers who have been bankrupted by workman's compensation premiums.
Too many workers avoid visiting the doctor or taking time off to recover from illness or injury, because they simply can't afford the luxury of healing. Employers in our communities are unable to fill good-paying jobs, because the people they would like to hire are often struggling with addiction — thanks in large part to over-prescription of pain killers by insurance company doctors. The large insurers, including the "nonprofits," are making record profits while citizens and communities pay the price of this broken health care funding model.
We’ve been told that such a system "just wouldn't work in America," even though single-payer systems work in 35 of 36 developed countries around the world.
We’ve been told the single-payer system is ineffective and inefficient, despite evidence that health outcomes in the United States are some of the worse in the developed world, and our costs are the highest.
Date released by health insurance industry lobbyists points to the inherent waste in our current system, and clearly justifies the rising public demand for a single-payer, Medicare For All program.
As your representative, I will do everything I can to move us toward a Medicare For All system. I will support H.R. 676 Medicare for All, and advocate for state models, such as the New York Health Act. Until we achieve Medicare for All, I will not vote for any measures that weaken the Affordable Care Act or otherwise diminish care access or quality.
Other Medicare benefits
Medicare for All would greatly increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness in our broken health care system. In addition, it would bring many other benefits:
- Medicare for All would not need to make distinctions between types of care or whether a condition is "pre-existing."
- Current versions of the bill support dental and vision care, mental health care, reproductive care, addiction treatment, prescriptions, and nursing home and end-of-life care. It would naturally cover preventative care as well.
- The need for Medicaid coverage would disappear, as Medicare for All would cover everyone. The high costs for Medicaid at the state level, which in New York are pushed to the county level, would no longer be a factor in driving up property taxes.
- Health care providers spend too much time navigating reimbursement procedures for each of the multitude of insurance companies, when they would rather be providing care to patients. The ability to submit all claims to Medicare would drastically reduce billing headaches for providers.
- We must be sure that Medicare is given the ability to negotiate drug prices, effective immediately.
- Farmers, artists, craftspeople, contractors, small-business owners, and people caring for loved ones could better focus on their jobs, without the fear of losing their health insurance. Employees at companies would feel safer about changing jobs or starting their own businesses.
Prioritize and encourage wellness
Medicare for All would naturally encompass treatment of illness, compassionate end-of-life care, and comprehensive prenatal care, but to improve our nation's health further, we need to prioritize and encourage wellness.
- I strongly support physical fitness programs and initiatives, both within and outside of schools.
- I strongly support additional funding and attention for community-based prevention and wellness programs. These should be available to people in all locations and across the socioeconomic spectrum.
- Food insecurity is a major contributor to poor health. Our residents need access to fresh, nutritious food — and ideally, that food should be grown locally, and it should be available in shops, in schools, and via food distribution networks.
- Mental health is a key component of wellness. We must work to make sure that vulnerable communities feel safe, and that bullying and sexual harassment are not tolerated.
- I support social agencies, clubs and organizations that work to foster a sense of community. We must help all our residents (but perhaps most clearly our children and elderly) to avoid feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
- We need to increase enrollment in medical schools and medical residency programs, with special attention on the need for physicians and nonphysician practitioners in rural areas.
- I support additional funding for the National Health Service Corps.
Focus on Addiction
Our district is struggling to save our residents from opioid addiction, and we need the consistency, affordability, and access to care that Medicare provides. I believe we also need a special focus on addiction:
- We need to develop and expand programs to prevent, treat, and respond to opioid addiction and overdose.
- We need to training first responders — and provide them with the care they need as they witness continual overdoses.
- We need to investigate illegal distribution, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, as well as physicians and clinicians intentionally offering dangerous prescriptions.
- We need to fund NIH programs to research and develop alternatives for pain management, medication-based addiction treatments, and antidotes to fentanyl, including research on the effectiveness of medical marijuana.
- We need enhanced collaboration between law enforcement and substance abuse entities.
(banner photo features Ian Golden, campaign manager Brian Batrowny, and NYS Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, author and lead sponsor of the NY Health Act)