Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court should be opposed not on partisan grounds but on moral ones. He poses a threat to the well-being of Mainers like myself, my daughter and the hardworking people employed at our shop in downtown Rockland.
His hostility to the Affordable Care Act, evident in his opinions on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, could be the final nail in the coffin for affordable insurance for the more than 77,000 Mainers who rely on the ACA. We all deserve — not to mention need — decent health coverage and fewer of us will be insured if the ACA is dismantled by a Kavanaugh Supreme Court.
Americans face enormous health obstacles and basic issues such as pre-existing conditions and medication for common diseases such as Type 1 diabetes. Insulin simply is not affordable without decent health insurance coverage. Does anyone else know someone who struggles with this?
We’ve watched at our shop as Republican-led sabotage of the ACA has thrown the insurance market into a tailspin. In the last two years, prices have shot up and our employees forego insurance or switch to high-deductible plans with insufficient coverage.
If Kavanaugh is appointed and tips the balance to overturn the ACA, businesses like mine will suffer and our employees will suffer worse. The moral choice is to expand access to health care, not diminish the number of insured. Kavanaugh is a pointed choice for our Supreme Court whose appointment should not be supported by Sen. Susan Collins.
Health care costs a top concern
The No. 1 issue Maine voters are concerned about, according to a Suffolk University Political Research Center poll reported on by the Bangor Daily News last month, is health care. No wonder: Affordable health care is essential to any prosperous society. But rising premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses now affect people at all economic levels in Maine.
Our current system, weighed down with large administrative costs, depends upon private insurers, and sometimes leaves medical decisions in the hands of the marketplace, not the doctor. A single-payer plan — like Medicare for all — would greatly reduce administrative costs: private companies spend about 20 percent on administration, while Medicare spends about 2 percent.
For most of my life, I’ve bought individual health insurance. Forty years ago, my plan cost less than $35 per month. But by my mid-50s — even with a large deductible — it cost more than 15 percent of my income. Now, although I qualify for a subsidy on the health care marketplace, I pay considerable out-of-pocket expenses. Even with a $5,000 deductible, I pay a high monthly premium. Obamacare has helped me considerably, but it’s clear to me it’s cumbersome and imperfect.
A single-payer system — which has been administered successfully in other developed countries and in our own country under Medicare — is essential if we are to see equitable and affordable health care for all.
With the November elections coming up, we can move closer to changing the system by supporting candidates who will fight for universal health care.
Make health care universal
Medicare for all would provide universal health care coverage and save money, as Phil Caper’s Aug. 26 OpEd explained. It would also remove the stresses of medical debt, lack of coverage, insurance denial and dependence on an employer. Good health care should be a right for all, not a benefit only for those who can afford it.
Such a major revision of a system that is not working well will require compromise. Health insurance companies will become obsolete, resulting in huge shifts in employment and requiring government training programs. Taxes will increase, but insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will decline, along with medical costs, waste, fraud and excessive administration, resulting in a net gain for taxpayers.
Every major social or economic change that betters people’s lives — civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights — is met with resistance, from those who stand to gain from the existing system (as insurance companies and some private hospitals do) and from those who don’t understand the benefits for everyone, including themselves, or who feel threatened by change.
But whatever path health care reform takes, we must not lose sight of the goal: a not-for-profit government-financed health care system that covers everyone from the cradle to the grave.
When we vote in November, we should elect representatives who understand and support universal health care coverage. Perhaps, at long last, the time has come for our country to join the rest of the developed world.
Consider universal health care
I am a universal health care convert. I used to be skeptical. Then two things happened. My partner changed jobs and our new health insurance policy came with a steep deductible and sticker shock at the cost of routine medical care. And Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for president, famously running on a platform that included universal health care.
Sanders’ words grabbed my attention, and the more I learned about the U.S. health care system — long lauded as the best in the world — the more dismayed I became. People facing bankruptcy following a cancer diagnosis or relying on Kickstarter campaigns to fund care?
And it isn’t just the exorbitant costs, with the U.S. spending more on health care than any other country. Consider the outcomes. Our life expectancy is shorter, and we see significantly more preventable deaths per year than other wealthy nations. The numbers are just as paltry for child and maternal mortality.
But universal health care isn’t just about affordability and health outcomes. It’s also about freeing us to start our own businesses and be innovative in ways that many can’t for fear of losing that precious modicum of health coverage.
With the gubernatorial election two months away, I challenge Janet Mills to make a universal health care system for Maine a centerpiece of her platform. Doing so will demonstrate a commitment to boosting the health and well-being of Mainers, and helping this great state maximize its economic and entrepreneurial potential.