Letter to the Editor: Universal healthcare

Dear Editor:

A good friend of mine said that for her, politics starts with the question “What sort of society do we want to live in?” For me, universal healthcare is an important component of that society.

In 2011, a report on the availability of healthcare in various countries ranked the United States as 33rd, behind Mexico. Of the 32 countries ranked higher than the United States, 27 of them provided 99% of their population with some form of health insurance.

While many of us in the United States have decent health insurance, a significant percentage do not. Many with serious illnesses have to choose between bankruptcy or receiving no treatment. Why is this acceptable in America?

The Affordable Care Act was meant to remedy this shameful situation. The act, passed in 2010, was a compromise, based on the conservative concept of an individual mandate first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. This concept was the conservative alternative to a single-payer system. How ironic that today a conservative judge has used this very mandate as a basis for striking down the entire act.

The World Health Organization describes universal healthcare as a situation where citizens can access health services without incurring financial hardship. Universal healthcare is not some evil boogieman. It exists throughout the industrialized world. Medicare, established in 1965, goes a long way to providing this universal healthcare for seniors, and is very successful and popular.

The ACA has expanded medical coverage in the United States. The percentage of people without health insurance fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% in June 2016, adding coverage for 23 million people. This in spite of rising premium costs, much of which have been driven by repeated attempts by the Republican-controlled legislature to sabotage the law.

Let’s stop the wrecking-ball, join the rest of the industrialized world, and work to create universal healthcare, health care for all.

Frank Kearns