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 and believe we must move toward a Medicare for All system. It is time to assure health care coverage for all regardless of age, pre-existing conditions or economic status. The cost of health care is the leading cause of bankruptcy in America. We must decide if we want to be a country that prioritizes the health and life of its citizens over profits.

While we must remove the profit-motive model from the health care system, it is important that we transition away from the current system in a sensible fashion. 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. The current system is failing on both a human level and a fiscal level. Medicare for All prioritizes health care as a fundamental right while addressing many of our fiscal challenges. One major benefit of a Medicare for All program comes in the form of critical relief for small business owners. The average small business owner pays $12,000 per year for each employee. Medicare for All would give employers more freedom to pay their workers better wages while spending more time and energy on innovation and production instead of burdensome paperwork and insurer-related red tape. This system 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 proceed in a bipartisan manner, but we must continue to work for all people 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.

[1] America’s Health Rankings 2015, United Health Foundation, 2015 Annual Report,