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GUEST EDITORIAL: Medicare for all would be the best option

What do you think should be the government's role in health care? Can it be fixed? How?

DFL Response: By Patty Murto

We are talking about what the role of government should be in health care. What we are debating in Congress right now is about repealing the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and replacing it with "Trumpcare." The reason there is any debate at all is because those who have been demanding repeal for the last eight years and have had some 50 votes to accomplish that did not plan to include a replacement. They did not believe the government should have a role in health care. Since the polling on Obamacare was not positive in the beginning, they thought they could just push on through a repeal. Well, guess what? They were wrong. The Affordable Care Act, while having some problems that need to be corrected, is popular. People don't want to lose their health insurance. When people lose their health insurance, they lose their health care. As the plan is at this point, 23 million people will lose their health insurance. It's a large number, are you one of them? Is your mother one of them? How about your grandmother? Your college student? Your child working at a Burger King making $600 a month? This is going to touch close to home.

Most people get their health insurance through their employers. Unions fought for health insurance coverage for employees. That benefit became expected with large employers, but is not available through a majority of other employers. Employers have to look at the total cost of each employee, which includes insurance, taxes, unemployment, workers compensation, paid time off and training. Health insurance costs pre-Obamacare rose no less than 10 percent a year and sometimes up to 25 percent a year. Oftentimes, raises in the cost of health insurance cost employees a raise.

I have been an employer for more than 30 years, and I promise you going back to pre-Obamacare will not be a good thing. As the premiums rose, employers were forced into changes in your coverage. Bigger co-pays and larger deductibles. Some employers eliminated coverage in certain areas. Mental health, treatment programs, maternity care were usually first on the chopping block. Do you remember the rhetoric of death panels? Well, if Obamacare is replaced with Trumpcare, those death panels will exist for those people with a pre-existing condition. It will certainly exist for our seniors in nursing homes, as the plan to remove billions of dollars of Medicaid coverage will certainly affect those seniors unable to personally afford the monthly cost of care, which is I think more than $6,000 a month. What happens then? Are you financially able to bring your mom, dad or grandma into your home and provide 24-hour care? Maybe for a little while, but then what?

Do you remember that we had record numbers of bankruptcies? Do you remember that almost all of them bankrupted on health care expenditures? Even those with insurance could not afford the deductibles and co-pays. We don't want to go back to those days. So, what would be my solution? Medicare for all would be the best option, in my humble opinion. Another option is an insurance fallback plan. Minnesota already runs many insurance programs. The private market gets the first chance to deliver insurance, but if their rates are 10 percent higher than the insurance program run by the government, people can buy their insurance through the government plan. The plans will have small deductibles and co-pays. Medicaid will be available for those unable to afford an insurance plan.

To believe the insurance industry is hurting and losing hundreds of millions of dollars while paying their CEOs $65 million annually is preposterous.

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Writer Patty Murto was a Carlton County Commissioner and she is a DFL party activist. She is also a regular on Harry's Gang, a CAT-7 talk show that focuses on politics.

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