Americans pay the highest healthcare taxes in comparison to other industrialized nations; however, thousands of citizens die each year due to preventable causes.
Americans have struggled with the costs of preventable, emergency, mental health, vision, dental, hearing care and prescription medicine. As a result, the nature of healthcare has struck an ongoing political conversation that has only intensified in recent years.
After Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” efforts during his 2016 presidential run, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D) decided to revamp the bill. In the summer of 2018 Jayapal help found the Medicare for All Caucus, which now has more than 70 Democratic representatives as members.
“What Americans see every day is that their new best insurance plan is GoFundMe,”
Jayapal said during a recent town hall held in Minneapolis along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). “For the richest country in the world to not provide healthcare as a human right, that is unacceptable and that’s what Medicare for All fixes.”
The idea has since gained traction nationally and she, along with Omar, agreed to host the town hall on July 18 at the Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis to bring awareness, inform, support and address concerns regarding the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All bill.
Rose Roach, executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Erin Murphy, former Minnesota House member and former executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association and registered nurse, Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) and Dr. Dave Dvorak, emergency medical physician, accompanied Omar and Jayapal on the panel.
The Medicare for All bill proposes to cover all medical care expenses of American citizens, legal residents and immigrants from the moment the bill is implemented. Supporters say it will eliminate co-pays, deductibles, privatized insurance restrictions, keeps doctors independent and keeps electronic health records confidential.
“I went to school to help patients, but I realized at some level it’s simultaneously hurting them,” said Dvorak. “Personally, I didn't want to be part of a system that harms our patients while we’re allegedly helping them.
The bill will allow Americans to choose their health care provider, support long term care and cuts administrative costs, supporters say.
“We know the American healthcare system is broken,” Omar said. “This is unacceptable. It is a moral imperative that we fix (the high costs of healthcare) and Medicare for All will do that.”
The proposed comprehensive healthcare bill aims to be funded by a Medicare trust fund, current Medicare, Medicaid and public health dollars. Medicare for All is now co-sponsored by more than 110 members of the House of Representatives.
“It is time for this, it is time for healthcare for all,” Murphy said. “This is no time for tippy-toe politics.”