Fixing our health care system’s intrinsic problems

Columnist misconstrues intent of ‘Medicare for All’

It’s about fixing our health care system’s intrinsic problems, not ‘the mechanics of insurance.’

Reading Dr. Leana S. Wen’s Oct. 20 commentary, “Can we stop talking about Medicare for All?” (Page D1), I felt that she, as a professional on the front lines, gave excellent examples of major issues with our current health care system, such as the closing of rural hospitals, the cutting of expensive programs such as obstetrics, doctor shortages, the high cost of prescription drugs and the severity of the opioid epidemic. I did, however, find the column’s headline problematic.

As illustrated by the commentary, “Medicare for All” means different things to different people. To those supporting it, it is a concept focusing on “care for all.” It’s not about “the mechanics of insurance,” as the author suggests, but about dealing with the very real issues in our current system that she spells out.

It is about taking care of everyone and cutting inefficiency and excessive profit, and therefore cost, at the same time. It is about setting up a system where no one dies because of lack of health care, no one goes bankrupt, the anxiety of linking care to employment is lifted from both employer and employee and medical outcomes are better. Details may vary, but some form of Medicare for All has been successful in most other developed countries.

Finally, the answer to the original question posed by the column is “No, unequivocally no.” For hope for a better future, perhaps for a future at all, we must keep talking about Medicare for All as well as other urgent issues of these times.

Jean Sawyer, Brunswick

Jean is a long-time member of the Greater Brunswick Area chapter of Maine AllCare, and a regular contributor to the opinion pages of her local newspapers.