Maine Voices: The time for universal health care and single-payer is near

On October 13, 2017, the Portland Press Herald published an important opinion piece written by Dr. Richard Dillihunt. Dr. Dillihunt is a retired surgeon, and a longstanding staunch advocate for universal healthcare. He has testified several times at the Maine State Legislature, most recently in May, on behalf of Rep. Heidi Brooks’ “Healthy Maine Act” to provide universal healthcare to everyone in Maine. Excerpts are published below.

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Seventeen years ago, I wrote an op-ed for the Maine Sunday Telegram headlined “Universal Medicare: The time is coming” (Nov. 19, 2000). Apparently I jumped the gun, as it has not taken place yet. (photo: Dr. Dillihunt, 2000)

Now I feel like a cicada, an insect that looks like a huge fly, emerging after 17 years of hibernation under the bark of a tree and emitting unique and characteristic shrill buzzing sounds to attract attention to itself. Now the sounds come from independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The concern of our nation regarding health care for all is reaching a crescendo, and we need to address this. The resounding will of the people should be recognized and acted upon.

The recent and astounding conversion of now-retired Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., into a supporter of a system of single-payer care like that of Canada leaves one breathless. Baucus owed this to every American, having blocked single-payer eight years ago as an architect of the Affordable Care Act.

Today I repeat the message after all these years. The time for universal health care and single-payer is near, and the politicians of all parties have an obligation to awaken and do what hundreds of millions of Americans crave. Poll after poll expresses this desire.

Current efforts otherwise in Washington are dying day by day, and the gasping last breaths of politicians to repair, replace, revise, renew or whatever are just roadblocks and flimsy efforts to make an easy job impossible…

Money is not the problem. How can we wear Gucci shoes while preemies die? How can we let our horn of plenty stop on Wall Street while addicts lives’ end as they wait in vain down the street for rehabilitation services? How can we spend $4 billion on another destroyer scraping its sides on the Panama Canal while health care-related bankruptcies humiliate Middle America?…

I again submit: The time has come for Americans to take care of ourselves….

Personally, I have more at stake here. I do not want to wait another 17 years to see a change that is so critically needed now. I am sick of living under the bark of a tree. Please study the issues on switching to universal health care and single-payer. Then join Bernie Sanders and a huge majority of our fellow Americans in supporting single-payer care.

For the full article, visit