By Beth Sirr
The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, April 30, 2017
Like fire departments, public roads and the military, health care is a basic requirement for the safety and prosperity of any country. We the People form governments to ensure essential services we cannot afford individually.
The problem is, while all other industrialized nations collectively fund health care for their people, we don’t. Instead, we give billions to insurance corporations that provide no care and make money by not paying for it. Taxpayers are left to pay for those they’ve deemed “unprofitable”: seniors, the disabled, the poor. Tragically, out of 11 industrialized nations the U.S. spent 54 percent more on health care per person, but “ranked last overall on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives” (Commonwealth Fund, 2016).
Why won’t politicians adopt what is better and costs less like our competitors? Because they care more about corporate insurance donors than We the People? Because they have guaranteed health care at taxpayer expense? Because they are too far removed from the intimacy of caring for the sick? American health care shouldn’t be unaffordable, unequal, wasteful or corrupt.
We all could thrive economically and have the care we need. Here’s how: A bill currently in Congress, Improved Medicare for All, HR 676, would extend coverage to everyone and be financed by equitable taxes, based on ability to pay. No more premiums, copays or deductibles. One payer for all medical bills would save about $500 billion annually in administrative waste and free up time for doctors to provide patient care. After Medicare passed in 1965, it was working nationwide within one year. Please, ask our politicians to do the right thing: Replace ACA with Medicare for All.
Beth Sirr, a family nurse practitioner, resides in Bozeman.