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Access to Affordable Healthcare is a Right. Our Dysfunctional System is Holding American Workers and American Companies Back. Let’s Fix It.

While we have been arguing for decades about who takes the risk of accidents and illness and who pays the bills, the cost of our healthcare per citizen has soared to twice what it costs in other advanced industrial democracies. While we incur higher costs, our outcomes are not as good and we do not cover every citizen.  We pay twice as much as citizens in other countries but we do not live any longer and are not any healthier. Often we wait longer to see a specialist and we pay twice as much for our prescriptions.  This is not right, this is not fair and this must be changed.

Republicans who tell you that before ObamaCare we had the best healthcare system in the world are delusional. Our healthcare is too expensive and instead of fixing it, our politicians are protecting health insurers and pharmaceutical companies at the expense of providers and patients.  

I believe that over time we can reduce our healthcare costs by 50%, to levels common in other industrial countries.  If France and Canada can do it, so can we.  Our expensive healthcare system and the difficulty in getting insurance ruin families and small businesses financially, create incredible anxiety, and foster unhealthy situations, such as not taking expensive medication to save money.

Only in the US is the employer primarily responsible for an employee’s healthcare. Elsewhere the government fulfills this role.  This means that an American worker has to be far more productive than a German, Japanese, or other nationality just to cover his or her family’s healthcare cost.  For example, a typical US-made car includes about $3,000 for healthcare expense in its sticker price.  Our expensive healthcare system serves as a major disincentive to hiring Americans and needs to be reformed in order to make America truly competitive. 

Reforming healthcare will give our workers the opportunity to have secure, good-paying jobs and result in significant economic growth.  Today, if a company has two factories, one in America and one overseas, and the company wants to consolidate into one unit, most likely it will choose to close the American factory.  This is because only here in the US must the employer pay for healthcare, which costs twice as much as it should.  The American worker is also cheaper to fire, because here, unlike in other countries, companies have no obligation to pay a fair severance.

This is not fair, and it must be addressed to retain good-paying jobs, and to bring back more jobs to the US.

Although the GOP will dust off their tired and empty old slogans and call this ‘socialized medicine'-it is not.  It’s another, more efficient way to pay private providers:I propose the following.

·      Single payer healthcare insurance—Medicare for all-- for every American for basic healthcare needs. This would immediately lower healthcare costs by 20%. Those who want special “concierge” healthcare can still supplement their Medicare with enhanced private insurance at their own expense, as is done in other countries with single payer, giving Americans the best of both worlds

·      Regulations to prevent pharmaceutical companies from charging any more in the US than they do on average in every other advanced industrial democracy.  This will reduce prescription costs by 50% and reduce total healthcare costs by 10%

·      Graduated medical school debt forgiveness for doctors who accept Medicare patients.  Doctors want to heal, not run businesses.  Unfortunately they have huge administrative burdens to comply with health insurance demands and high student debt to pay. Let’s enable them to do what they set out to do when they were young:  help their patients stay healthy and heal them when they are sick or injured.

Over time we can sharply reduce our healthcare costs to the OECD average while producing better outcomes.  This will result in a more vibrant economy, more competitive American companies, better wages, and a happier, less anxious, and healthier population.


Committee to Elect John Suddarth
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