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Last Tuesday, a national town hall meeting on Medicare For All was broadcast over the internet. Despite pulling in over a million viewers, there has been little local or national coverage. This is unfortunate, since health care is a key concern for almost everyone.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders, so some might be inclined to assume that this was a purely partisan issue, but the panelists in the meeting made a compelling case that this is not so. For one thing, there were businessmen and women who pointed out that a unified health care system brought down costs for employers and made them more competitive. In addition, people who reported on the experience of Canada, France, and Norway showed that not only do those countries pay less for care, they get better results than we do.

It's easy to understand this when you realize that a unified system means you're paying the providers directly. In our system, we pay the providers only what the insurance companies have negotiated, and we also pay for the salaries, marketing, and profits of those companies, as well as those of the drug companies and related industries. A Medicare For All plan eliminates that overhead.

The panelists also busted several myths including a) higher costs (e.g., my taxes might go up $500/month to pay for Medicare, but I would no longer be paying $850/month to the insurance company), and b) Canadians fleeing across the border to avoid their system (a study reported US border hospitals as seeing less than one Canadian per month).

Given that the Democrats want to be the party of social justice (provide care for all), and the Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives (lower costs to Americans), we need to push our representatives on both sides of the aisle to create a system that benefits the people of the country, not big pharma and the insurance companies.

Medicare already exists, it's effective and efficient. Why not cover every single American so that people can get care when they need it rather than burdening emergency rooms with people who waited too long because their insurance was non-existent or had excessive co-pays or deductibles?

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Ross Nelson

Helena

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