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William Babson Jr. of Sinclair is a retired surgeon.
I am responding to two articles in the March 11 issue of the Bangor Daily news. One is a column by Dale Crafts of Lisbon, a Republican nominee for Maine’s 2nd Congressional district in 2020, titled “Public option will make health care system worse.” The other is an “Other Voice,” an editorial from the March 9 issue of the Los Angeles Times, titled “Make health insurance affordable.”
Crafts recognizes the serious challenges to our health care system brought on by the pandemic but goes on to say that “a new government-run health insurance system, like the ones recently proposed by some politicians in Washington will create more problems than it solves.”
The Times editorial states that “a health insurance system that relies on employer-sponsored policies is poorly equipped to handle a disease-induced recession.” Millions of Americans who lost their jobs no longer have health insurance. “Combined with steadily rising deductibles, high premiums have been one of the biggest challenges not just for the ACA but for the entire health system.” The editorial goes on to say that President Joe Biden is providing a COVID-19 relief bill that is a big albeit temporary improvement in affordability.
So we have a Republican, whose party has misled us for many years saying that they will improve our health care system. And what have they done? They have made it worse by trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act in the courts and making it harder for poor people to get Medicaid.
In essence, Crafts is saying that we need to go back to the old private insurance-based system that is not working. Hospitals in Republican states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion are more likely to close than in states that accepted Medicaid expansion. In addition, while disparaging government-run health care, Crafts conveniently does not mention that Medicare has worked well since 1965 and is a government-run system with much less administrative costs. As a surgeon who worked in the system for 32 years, I can tell you that my Medicare patients received excellent care — and they appreciated it.
The LA Times editorial is more aligned with the facts of our current system. However, it admits that Biden’s efforts can only be temporary.
The only answer to our health system’s problems is single-payer Medicare for all. And the biggest and most overwhelming reason is that it eliminates private for-profit health insurance and huge costly administrative control and paperwork. It also channels money to where it is needed — not building hospitals that cater to the rich with rooms with great views and lavish entrances — but by building much-needed emergency rooms, etc.
I recommend to those of you who want to understand the issue a book published this year titled Medicare for all: A Citizen’s Guide.