LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Doubling down on affordable health care for all

After this summer’s failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care advocates can go two ways: continue to bore the electorate with wonk talk or electrify them by doubling down.

Attacks continue, racing a Sept. 30 deadline. Just this week, Sens. Cassidy, Graham, Heller and Johnson (all Rs) released their “moderate” repeal that would eliminate tax credits to buy coverage, end funds to expand Medicaid, cut Medicaid for children, seniors and the poor, and gut coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Unfortunately, the electorate’s eyes glaze over trying to count how many insured this or that bi-partisan compromise will abandon or embrace. In a recent op-ed, Delaware Sen. Thomas Carper correctly identifies the ACA as a bipartisan compromise itself and faults the Republicans for failing to share ownership. Now, he says he is open to bipartisan solutions to that solution’s rising costs and unstable insurance markets. We hope not Cassidy-Graham.

Glazed eyes may slumber come election time, and the universal health care that Americans deserve will sink beyond an ever-receding horizon. Sinking with it will be solutions to problems like Delaware’s opioid crisis and the epidemic of gun violence.

Even more numbing would be attempts to horuspicate, or read, the entrails of the budget process, where ACA saboteurs work like tapeworms, gnawing at ACA, Medicare and Medicaid. While the sausage-making work of congressional resistance must continue, the goal is to sweep the saboteurs from power and promote health care as a universal right.

Laudably, grass-roots alliance Delaware United has proposed scuttling the monopoly of insurance companies with a Medicare Buy-In (MBI) program. With federal support, the cost could be as low as $240 per month. Without it, concedes Delaware United, “deductibles, small co-payments, or slightly narrower coverage for certain services” might be necessary.

To the rescue comes Sen. Bernie Sanders, with his new Medicare for All bill, co-sponsored by 16 Democrats, including several shoring up their bona fides as 2020 presidential contenders. These leaders are embracing their country’s and their party’s future. The bill would add vision care and dental care, all paid for by equitable taxes in place of rising premiums and inconsistent employer benefits.

While in transition, Sanders’ bill would support MBIs like Delaware United’s. Frosting the cake, it should eliminate EOBs, those Explanations of Benefits that clog our mailboxes, glaze our eyes, and explain nothing.

Additionally, opportunities will arise to alleviate opioid addiction and gun violence.

Every family plagued by addiction knows the shortage of recovery systems and long waits while loved ones drain family resources or succumb to overdoses, violence, or imprisonment. When treatment is widely accessible, drug markets will dwindle.

With health taxes far below current insurance costs, new opportunities will arise for entrepreneurs to attract quality employees not consumed by medical uncertainty. As someone active in Delaware’s poetry community, I see arts entrepreneurs like SuiteFranchon Beeks, Amillion the Poet, Richard Raw, Vince Comegys-Davis, The Twin Poets (Delaware’s poets laureate), and others striving on a shoestring to spread positivity and opportunity among Delaware’s youth.

Victory’s key is suggested by Margarida Jorge, co-executive director of Health Care for America Now, an advocacy organization that promoted the ACA and is now one of its most vigorous defenders. Speaking to Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow.org July 28, Jorge advised, “whether or not Democrats take up Medicare for all, whether or not they take up negotiations for prescription drug companies … really depends on grass-roots pressure, in the same way that stopping repeal has really depended upon grassroots pressure.”

Beware. Insurance companies will unleash Astroturf imposters and fake news to protect a flawed system. Details will dull the senses.

Dial 1-888-981-9704 to tell your legislators to stop Cassidy-Graham, not get compromised by health care saboteurs, forge ahead with true universal health care, electrify the electorate, and win.

Phillip Bannowsky


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