What Comes Next In Heath Care
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s just how vital healthcare is the fabric of our society. It’s elemental; nothing functions without having our bodies, and souls, taken care of.
We aren’t there yet, but COVID-19 will go away. The economic hardships caused by the pandemic will, for most, be repaired. The recent American Relief Bill is a $1.9 trillion exclamation point on our commitment to taking care of at least the dollar-side of the pandemic’s impact on our lives. Like no other bill, it’s a testament to the idea that financial equality can lift lives to new levels of comfort.
The US is currently putting thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, of dollars into the hands of the low-and-middle income families that need it most. The move will lift more families out of poverty than any economic program in history. And while the bill also includes a further $850 billion for state education and health budgets, it doesn’t go far enough.
What happens next should be an extension of the bill and its mission; to bring those same Americans out of a world of medical uncertainty as well. To those with little or no healthcare access, the $1400 stimulus check might provide a month or two or rent, but it does nothing to entice those who need healthcare to seek it; for those facing financial hardship due to medical expenses, $1400 is a fraction of their deductible but a substantial chunk of their total income.
This current bill exceeds the total annual budgets of MedicAid and MediCare combined, but it’s a short-lived measure. Most of the benefits will expire in 2021, especially the unemployment benefits that have proven to vital in keeping families fed and housed. Upon the expiration of this bill, what happens for those who have lost employer-supported healthcare plans and need medical care?
I do believe the Affordable Care Act can be improved and budgeted to give Americans in need a real, reliable, and realistic option for healthcare that isn’t tied to a job that offers them no guarantees and no promises. I also believe that by investing in the marketplace, we can improve the competition in a market currently bloated, ugly, and wasteful; we pay the most for care and get nothing like the best service in return. Finally, I believe that incremental change can work to bring universal care to every American, and do so by serving more and more families each and every year successfully.
Access to care is cancer prevention. It’s also prevention of all disease and all illnesses. It’s also a way to reduce the societal impact of mental health issues, of depression, and in many cases, violence. It can reduce substance abuse, and it can improve the lives of millions of otherwise healthy and hard-working Americans who simply want to know that when they need care, they can have it without wincing at the bill.
We are going to get there, but we can’t wait and we can’t let time go by. Time costs us lives and quality of life.
The next landmark bill in American history should be focused on healthcare for all us.