by Edwin Santana, Democratic candidate for Congress in VA-01
Healthcare is a fundamental human right. I believe our founding fathers would agree. What is a life full of sickness and disease that could be treated if you were wealthier? What is liberty when Americans become hostages to their own medical debt? What is the pursuit of happiness when you’re more concerned about how to cover medical costs for your or your loved ones? Living healthy lives free of medical debt bondage is vital to the beliefs outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
As a child we didn’t have access to quality healthcare. We had to get insurance either through school sports teams, or through my college. The only preventative medicine I received was annual physicals so I could play on our football team. My parents left good jobs in Florida to move us to Maine, and our family health insurance didn’t come with us.
I’ve been very fortunate my entire adult life. I received first class healthcare through the military as a Marine Corps Officer and I still receive that same healthcare as a spouse of a Marine Corps Officer. My son was born at a naval hospital in Camp Pendleton California, and my daughter was born at an army hospital in Fort Belvoir Virginia. When driving my wife to the hospital as she went into labor, at no point did I have to stop and think “will we be able to afford a medical procedure if something goes wrong?” or “What if my kids aren’t born perfectly healthy?”. I know it sounds like a radical idea, but when our family needed healthcare, all we had to worry about was getting healthy, and getting back to life. There is a strong therapeutic quality to that.
I want every American to have access to that same quality of care, and the peace of mind in knowing that if something goes wrong, they’ll be taken care of. Healthcare shouldn’t be tied to your job or dependent on how much money you make or tied to your job. It shouldn’t be dependent on whether you live in a blue state that expended Medicaid, or a red state that refused to do so for political reasons.
I will be an advocate for a Single Payer system. I support the efforts of members of Congress pushing for Medicare for All. We wrote a paper in May on why we think Single Payer is the Only Answer. To those who say we can’t afford it, the government already funds almost two thirds of healthcare costs in this country through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the department of Veterans Affairs, and military medicine. Closing the loop on the final third of the population and taking the “for profit” aspect out of taking care of people will be a challenge but it’s not impossible.
Currently, Americans spend about $3.4T in healthcare. The lowest estimate for single payer healthcare by Bernie Sanders and the highest estimate by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget are $1.38T and $2.8T respectively. The increase in taxes would be offset by $600B in savings returned directly to the American people. We can afford this as a country.
We simply need to consolidate the spending power of all Americans to ensure that every American can get the healthcare they need. Hospitals and clinics will still be run by private entities, but the payment will come from the US treasury.
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