The readers of the IR received a lot of news about health care services in the Jan. 24 edition of this newspaper. Entirely missing was mention of the national health insurance debate held the night before. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ televised town hall on Tuesday night to promote single-payer health care, or “Medicare for all,” drew a live audience of about 1.1 million people. The event consisted of three expert panel discussions moderated by Sanders: the first discussing problems with the current American health care system; the second on the potential economic impact of a “Medicare for all” program; and the third comparing the American health care system with those in other countries.

In the US we spend twice as much as any other developed country on a mediocre health care system that leaves many people ill and disabled. A person without adequate insurance checking into the emergency room in diabetic coma (at taxpayer expense) rather than receiving routine and effecting medical care and council to control diabetes, was one example presented. The debate centered around the belief that access to good reliable health care is a right of all people, not just a privilege of the wealthy. A healthy population and workforce results in higher productivity and happier communities. Sanders also provided statistics that demonstrates how insurance and drug companies are making enormous profits from the current system through the influence their billions of dollars in campaign contributions have with Congress.

We have a system in place, Medicare, that could be expanded to all citizens, cost less and provide better quality care if we have the political will to stand up to these influential lobby groups and demand a change. This change is not without implementation problems, but these pale when contrasted with the problems in the current system. Let’s talk about it, make it a political priority, and hold our elected officials responsible for taking actions on health care that are supported by a majority of the population. The US should not be at the bottom of the health care list in this world.

Marie Bourgeois

Helena

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