BY ROSEANN DEMORO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 09/13/17 11:20 AM EDT
This article originally appeared in The Hill
With the collapse of the latest dismal effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare, the Graham-Cassidy block grantscheme, it’s time to try a different approach — let’s expand coverage and improve our healthcare system, not decimate it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.-I) this week is unveiling new legislation, the Medicare for all Act of 2017 that could finally achieve the dream reformers have advanced for more than a century – genuine universal care for all its people, guaranteed for everyone, regardless of ability to pay, gender, race, nationality, or where you live.
Medicare for all is not a “pony” as some dismissive critics would smugly like to assert. It’s a life and death struggle for millions of Americans.The “pony” crowd is losing ground to a growing mass movement and popular support.
A July Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll reported that 62 percent of public — and 80 percent of Democrats — believe it is “the federal government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans have health-care coverage.”
Support is rapidly building, both for the new Sanders’ bill and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) single payer bill.
Reasons for the shifting moment are many — the ongoing health crisis experienced by far too many of our neighbors and family members, the overwhelming response to Sen. Sander’s emphasis on the issue in his 2016 campaign and since, and the tireless work of long time activists, especially nurses, on the need for transformative healthcare reform to a system based on patient need, not private profit.
Even with the considerable gains under the ACA, 28 million are still uninsured. Millions more struggle with out of pocket costs so high, even after paying their premiums, that prods them to forgo needed care, putting their health and life at risk.
Here’s what one nurse, Michelle Gutierrez Vo, who works in a hospital clinic, experiences.
“I see patients not taking their medications to prevent life threatening conditions from advancing or happening, or bypassing appointments when not feeling good, because they can’t afford co-pays. They wait until they’re really ill and then end up in the emergency room where the co pays are sky high.”
“By the time they end up in the ER, they may be near death, literally, with a bigger bill, and then they usually will end up being admitted to the hospital. So now they are fighting for their life, and if they are lucky enough to survive, they come home with a bill they can’t pay. That is inhumane,” says Vo.