I attended the town hall at Montgomery County Community College with Representative Madeline Dean of the 4th Congressional District. I was disappointed to hear her take a step back from supporting Medicare for All, which she had supported on the campaign trail.
When asked about supporting Medicare for All, Rep. Dean stated that she was for “health care for all” and “access to health care”, buzzwords that are adopted by politicians who support the private health care/insurance model. These buzzwords are an attempt to confuse voters – “access” does not mean affordable or even truly accessible by all. So many are left out of the system under a “public option” model that it still fails to treat health care as a right, something Rep. Dean said she believed on the campaign trail, but is stepping back from today.
It was also surprising that Rep. Dean does not seem to grasp that M4A can address so many difficult and devastating health issues she expressed concern about. For example, she raised the issue of opioid addiction, and her support for “working with insurance companies” to expand treatment. It was a glaring irony that having Medicare for All would mean access on demand for all addiction treatment – the lack of which today lies directly at the feet of the insurance companies she is supposedly trying to arm-twist into providing desperately needed coverage. And this doesn’t address those people who can’t afford coverage at all, and do not fall within Medicaid guidelines. These are the hundreds of people dying each day that Rep. Dean claimed to care about, yet is unwilling to threaten corporate profits to save those people.
Another constituent raised the issue of Medicaid failing to help his 20-year old daughter who lives with a lifetime of birth conditions. This parent was outraged at the “block grant” system of providing funding for needed care and stated that his daughter was turned down for such care. Again, while she offered her staff’s assistance for this gentleman individually, Rep. Dean completely missed the irony that a Medicare for All system would cover this man’s daughter, and all individuals with special and expensive needs, without having to “qualify” or fight for funding each and every year.
Rep. Dean stated that she was waiting to learn about the cost of a Medicare for All plan, and that the bill’s sponsor Rep. Pramila Jayapaul has yet to have it scored. Yet many studies are already available that show Medicare for All would easily cost less than we are all, collectively, paying today. Keep in mind that as much as 20% of the money we all pay today goes not toward care, but directly to corporate profits of the current insurance company system, the system Rep. Dean says she supports. Those insurance companies and their lobbyists, Independence Blue Cross and America’s Health Care Plans, are swaying Rep. Dean’s decision making, not the health needs of her constituents.
Rep. Dean stated that she supports improving the Affordable Care Act. But we all know by now that the ACA was a way to maintain insurance and drug company profits, while leaving so many with expensive medical bills or no coverage at all. And frankly, no one likes their corporate, private insurance, with all of today’s high deductibles, co-insurance and copays. (We all saw the response from a Fox News audience to Senator Bernie Sanders’ question about who wants to keep the private model!) When people learn that under M4A they would have more coverage for less money, the issue of “private” goes away. It’s time for Rep. Dean to move away from Speaker Pelosi’s talking corporate-friendly points, and do what is right for Montgomery County -- sign on to sponsor H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act.
-- Susan Caskey, Maple Glen