Health care should decide the next election…

… and guess who’s got a plan for that.

Three months ago one of my closest friends was hospitalized with a serious infection in her arm. Over the course of a few days doctors battled the infection with antibiotics and surgeries. Liz nearly lost her arm and faces months of rehabilitation to regain full use of her arm and hand. Guess what else she faces: $7,340 in co-pays for 2019, and $280 per 30 minute visit for rehab until she hits her 2020 deductible. She has been going once a week for three months, but no more. As Liz says, “Who can afford that? Not me. Even once a month, the cost is too outrageous.”

My friend Liz, in the hospital after nearly losing her arm to a serious infection.

Liz and her husband are livestock farmers and she also works part time as a librarian in a rural Minnesota county. They cannot afford to pay for her rehab.

This could be any of us, or most of us. Most Americans do not have $500 in the bank for emergencies, much less an extra $10,000 sitting around.

Health care propelled Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm election, and should be the deciding factor in the 2020 election for Congress and for the presidency. Many lives, literally, depend on it.

Most of us are one accident, one illness, or one surgery away from bankruptcy and financial ruin. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues. Further research shows that even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped more people gain coverage, it has not had a positive impact on financial difficulties caused by medical-related causes.

An analysis of the study published in the American Journal of Public Health states “…despite gains in coverage and access to care from the ACA, our findings suggest that it did not change the proportion of bankruptcies with medical causes.”

As another article put it, medical bankruptcy is killing the American middle class.

Change, however, is difficult, and people are rightfully leery of promised solutions without a price tag or a plan. Enter Elizabeth Warren’s first term plan for reducing health care costs in America and transitioning to universal coverage for all Americans.

Warren’s plan is detailed and has been vetted. It is palatable and promising to those who would trust and prefer an incremental approach.

I can’t blame people for being scared after all the fear mongering of the current administration, who have vowed to “repeal and replace” the ACA but in reality hope to repeal with no plan to replace. The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA in its entirety and, in keeping with their steady stream of lies on the topic, recently filed a brief asking the Court not to rule until after the 2020 elections. Why? Because they know damn well that 20 million people will lose their health insurance and voters will be rightfully furious. They also know that both Democrats AND Republicans like the ACA. A 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 80 percent of Republicans like the ACA’s provision that lowers the cost of prescription drugs for those on Medicare, and 58 percent of Republicans like that it stopped insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.

So health care is a bipartisan issue with wide appeal, and Warren’s plan would appeal to those who fear losing their coverage or increased costs. Warren’s plan would cause no tax increase to the middle and working class. Her campaign recently asked Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics and a former advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, to independently review her financing plan for expanding health care coverage to include all Americans. Here’s what Zandi had to say:

“(Warren’s) numbers add up and her plan fully finances the program without imposing any new taxes on middle-class families…

“But once we start to consider the broader consequences of the totality of Warren’s plans, it’s incumbent we do so with regard to both her tax proposals but also the investments those taxes will fund. Based on my own analyses, Warren’s plans for child care, housing and green manufacturing would spur economic growth and produce more tax revenue. Considering the economic impact of all her proposals (an analysis no one has done yet), it is very possible that total government revenues generated by her plans will exceed the total amount of new investments she proposes. Criticism that Senator Warren’s Medicare for All plan can’t be paid for, at least not without putting a greater financial burden on lower- and middle-income Americans, is wrong.”

Zandi finished his assessment by stating that Warren has credibly laid our her vision. He was also very impressed that she “sought out the opinions of those who may disagree with her to provide independent validation of her numbers. That’s the kind of rigor we should expect from all of our presidential candidates.”

Agreed! If health care won the Democrats 40 seats in the 2018 midterms it can also win us the presidency. I’m sure glad there’s a plan for that.

P.S. Liz’s ‘nevertheless she persisted’ tattoo was done by Minneapolis tattoo artist Emily Snow. Snow was inspired by Mitch McConnell’s attempted take-down of Warren to create a tattoo event which raised funds for Women Winning, a statewide movement and one of Minnesota’s most influential women’s political organizations. Hundreds of women showed up to get the tattoo, including yours truly.

P.S.S. I also trust Warren to work with unions and other stakeholders on health care and other issues. She is a uniter, a consensus builder and a team player!

Camille Gage is a Minneapolis artist and writer.

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Camille J Gage

Camille J Gage

Camille J. Gage is a Minneapolis based artist and writer.