Health Care-For-All Is Not Socialism, It’s A Birthright

BY DONATHAN SALKALN

It’s an American birthright to receive a public education. From Kindergarten through 12th grade our schools nurture brains and bodies into some of the brightest minds and greatest athletes of the world. Money can buy private schools, but most stand by our education system. Public members that serve on the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) are a guiding force in keeping local education on the up-and-up.

      Health care should be an American birthright too. Our country should nurture hearts as well as brains. Our current health system ranks near third-world levels, statistically, in too many categories, while also being the most expensive. I’m tired of neighbors getting sick, going bankrupt, losing their homes, or dying due to lack of care.

     On February 11th, Judy Richheimer (CRDC President) and I went with Campaign for New York Health and the New York Caring Majority to a rally and press conference in Albany. NYS Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and NY State Senator Gustavo Rivera were reintroducing the New York Health Act (A.5248, S.3577). There was a buzz of optimism, as the past election brought a Democratic majority to both the New York State’s Assembly and Senate for the first time in decades. If passed, the legislation would eliminate for-profit health insurance companies, co-pays, deductibles, bureaucratic paperwork, and all the denied procedures. At the meeting the addition of long-term care to the plan was announced.

      How much would such a plan cost? The coverage would be funded through a graduated tax on payroll and non-payroll taxable income, based on ability to pay. RAND Corporation, a conservative think-tank, did a study based on a funding model, and found the plan would save money from the very first day, onward. One notable wage-bracket of the RAND study: A worker making $100,000 with a family of four would split the cost: Employer: $533, and Employee: $133 a month (I was told that specific tax brackets are not in the bill, but were the basis of the RAND study). The money saved for businesses will attract companies from other states (Amazon ran too fast). State municipalities will be relieved of Medicaid costs, which dominate their budgets. Even school systems would benefit: with the slash of costly health insurance, school budgets would get relief and local government could lower real estate taxes or add curriculum.

     Amid cheers on the landing of the State Capitol Building’s stairwell, Assembly Member Gottfried spoke of the inclusion of long-term care into the legislation: “Long-term care is an intolerable drain on family finances and a burden on thousands of family caregivers – disproportionately women – who provide unpaid care to family members,” said Gottfried, implying that family members would be paid under the plan. “We can cover long-term care, providing dignity and financial security to millions of aging and disabled New Yorkers, under a progressive public financing model.  Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, including long-term supports and services, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it.”

      Much like private schools, people of wealth could buy private health care. And like the school’s PTA, local elected groups could be formed, called the Patient Doctor Association (PDA), who’s purpose would be to overlook the health system. I highly recommend caps on malpractice, similar to Canada’s system (sorry lawyers).

      Many media talking-heads label universal health care as socialism, instead of a birth right. I even heard one compare it to the United States Postal Service of which they claimed is a mess. With new housing developments rising across our country and mail carrier’s routes always expanding, I take offense to imply that the men and women of the USPS are a detriment to this country. Through rain, sleet, and snow, month after month, year after year, without exception, I still get delivered the same hospital bill that the insurance company was supposed to pay.

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