The freedoms and rights afforded to us in the Constitution mean little if we do not enjoy good health. No American should have to choose between paying rent and paying for life-saving medication or treatment. No one should have to use a hospital emergency room as a primary care facility. Moreover, there is no logic in a system in which nearly every employer has to waste energy and resources finding and providing health coverage for their employees. We can do better than that.
The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, but it is a beginning point. The end point should be a system that covers every American. While I plan to work toward a single payer, Medicare-for-All system, if necessary, I will vote for any health care legislation that takes steps in that right direction, including building upon the Affordable Care Act by adding Medicare to the health care exchange, lowering the age of Medicare availability to 55 and any other reasonable policy that can pass the Congress and move us toward universal coverage. Not only will that provide coverage to more Americans, it could relieve employers of the administrative burden of providing health insurance by allowing them to pour their resources into a centralized system that gives employees more choice at lower costs.
Not only do we have too many people in our current system without coverage, but for those that do, too many of them can’t afford the premiums and co-pays. We must do more to control escalating costs, which will necessarily include cost controls that prohibit pharmaceutical companies and medical providers from using the desperation of the consumer to extract outrageous sums that bear no relationship to costs or reasonable profits. The market for medical care is not like the market for any other good or service. When the consumer has virtually no bargaining power, it is up to the referee of the market (the government, on behalf of the taxpayers) to ensure that consumers are not exploited.