Health care is a right, not a privilege

Health care is a right, not a privilege. The right to health care is rooted in our dignity as persons and responsibility for one another. I support universal health care coverage, such as Medicare for All. It is time to assure health care coverage for all regardless of age, pre-existing conditions or economic status.

Previously, I supported developing and expanding the Affordable Care Act. However, with the tax legislation passed in December 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress cut the mandate (the funding mechanism) of the Affordable Care Act and now 13 million Americans will lose their health insurance. Consequently, this makes it unrealistic to develop and expand the Affordable Care Act. I, therefore, support Medicare for All.

Immediately in the first year, eligibility would drop to 55 years old, then 45 in year two, then 35 in year three. All would be covered by year four. In the first year, all children would be covered. Vision and dental would be covered, and pharmaceutical costs would be negotiated. Medicare for All makes fiscal sense. It would be paid for by a combination of a reasonable payroll tax on employers, income tax on the wealthy, operational efficiencies for health care providers due to a single-payer system, and improved health within previously underserved areas. Legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and co-sponsored by other Democratic Senators is consistent with this approach. See S. 1804 – Medicare for All Act of 2017.1

We need to work in a bipartisan manner, but we must continue to fight for all citizens in this District, including those with pre-existing conditions, those who need mental health care, those who require treatment for opioid addictions, and those who would have otherwise reached their lifetime caps, including persons with catastrophic illnesses and babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It is inconsistent to claim that one reverences life while opposing the provision of health care for all. It is time for health care for all, not the few.

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