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The political war for your right to health care

During a February 2017 demonstration in Los Angeles, people protest Trump administration policies that they say threaten the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, | David McNew / Getty Images

You are going to have to fight to get the health insurance you deserve. No one is going to hand it to you.

New stories about a federal judge declaring Obamacare (aka: The Affordable Care Act) unconstitutional have once more put the focus on the need for a law mandating single-payer national health insurance, already available in every other civilized nation in the world.


President Trump has repeatedly said that he’s going to pass a better plan than Obamacare, but he has not. He also said he’s going to bring the cost of prescription drugs under control. He lied.

The fact is that the private health insurance industry is a multibillion-dollar business. The pharmaceutical companies also make billions of dollars in profit. They aren’t going to give up all that money without a fight. They’re going to spend a lot of money on commercials that will scare you. They will use the money they made off of you to bribe your politicians.

Physicians for a National Health Program, headquartered right here in Chicago and co-founded by Dr. Quentin Young, one of the great champions of public health care, has been among the leaders in the war to establish a national health care system that actually works for everyone. This system is often referred to as Medicare for all.

“But it’s actually better than Medicare,” said Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program and an instructor at Harvard University.

“In our view, national health care ought to cover dental costs and eliminate co-pays. Many senior citizens today are paying for Medigap insurance because Medicare doesn’t cover the entire cost of many things. It should. It can be done here because it is already being done in many other countries throughout the world.”

There are polls that show more than 70 percent of Americans want single-payer national health insurance. One recent poll showed that 51 percent of Republicans want national health care.

But many of those people will be scared off once the debate turns serious and money pours into the campaign to keep you from getting the health care you deserve.

Secret death panels will determine who gets medical treatment and who doesn’t, you will be told.

Of course, secret panels already make those decisions for private insurance companies. And their primary motivation is profit, not your health care.

We all know that. But for some reason when the debate gets serious the public ignores its own experience.

“Despite the Affordable Care Act, we still have 30 million Americans uninsured and 41 million underinsured,” Gaffney said.

The underinsured discover that despite the health insurance provided by their employer their medical bills are costing them, on average, about 10 percent of their wages. That’s in addition to their health insurance premiums, which increase every year.

There are deductibles, co-pays, health savings accounts (that come out of your paycheck).

There are also the costs of prescription drugs, which can force people choose between eating or buying the medication they need to live.

“Someone who has cancer should not be penalized for needing chemotherapy,” Gaffney said. “We all know that’s wrong. But it happens all the time. Someone who has cancer should not be punished because they are ill.”

Gaffney admits this country’s approach to health care isn’t likely to change in the next two years.

When will it happen?

“When doctors, patients and others come together and demand that we put in place a system that will cover everyone who is sick,” Gaffney said. “It can be done. It has been done. And we can do it here in America.”

Don’t trust Republicans or Democrats on this. This is a war against two of the largest industries in America to get the health insurance your family deserves and not some Obamacare light version.


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