I am a father, husband and board-certified clinical psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse and medical director of CPEP (Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program).
I strongly believe health care is a right for all. It should be available without a cost burden as a healthy person is a productive person. Also, health care is not a commodity like an iPhone but essential to our wellness as a society. Yet the United States is the only industrialized country where health care is a commodity where people make profits on the back of sickness. Health care coverage for millions of Americans continues to be up in the air with little focus on long term solutions, as seen in "Bipartisan experts urge next steps on health care push" (auburnpub.com, 8/7/2017).
The president and many Republicans continue their obsession with getting rid of Affordable Care Act (ACA) despite polling and activism that shows the public prefer improving and expanding coverage. All parties seem to agree that the ACA in its current form is not affordable for many businesses and individuals. I continue to see working class people at my clinical practice who are suffering under this system. Often their employers cannot afford these health care costs. Medications are unaffordable and appointments are skipped. Emergency room care drives expenses up. Meanwhile, health insurance CEO salaries continue in the millions on the backs of those who are helping society.
We need to follow the most efficient model for administering healthcare: improved, expanded Medicare for all. Traditional Medicare has 2-percent administrative costs, as compared to private insurance company which can be as high as 12 percent and are profit oriented. Profits should not be the driving force to health care. It allows disparity of care and brings immeasurable hardship to the needy. Senators like Kirsten Gillibrand and others are supporting Medicare for all. There are 116 co-sponsors for the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. In New York, we are one state senator away from passing the New York Health Act, which would also provide universal coverage using the improved Medicare model. State Sen. Valesky is a co-sponsor, along with 30 other senators, and deserves praise. Our businesses and our patients demand that we cover everyone without wasting money. Let U.S. Rep. John Katko and state Sens. John DeFrancisco, Patty Richie and Pam Helming know they need to act now to support improved and expanded Medicare.