Bernie Sanders is the lone Democrat fighting for universal mental health care

KC Miller
KC Miller
Dec 19, 2019 · 4 min read
Sen. Bernie Sanders in Des Moines, Iowa
Sen. Bernie Sanders in Des Moines, Iowa
Sen. Bernie Sanders in Des Moines, Iowa on August 10, 2019.

Yesterday, Donald J. Trump became the third President in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. While this saga continues to unfold–dominating the news cycle–you may have forgotten about the Democratic primary hiding in its shadows. Tonight, a narrower pool of 7 candidates will be taking the stage in Los Angeles for the PBS/Politico 6th Democratic Debate.

If there is one thing we can expect at tonight’s debate, it is yet another heated exchange over the party’s vision on health care. A conversation that is far less polarizing than the corporate media would have you think. In fact, 77% of democratic voters support Medicare-For-All, along with the majority of all Americans.

Throughout this campaign, only one candidate has brought sufficient attention to a commonly overlooked aspect of health care–mental health. That candidate is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who last week declared on Twitter, “Mental health care is health care. It will be covered by Medicare-For-All.” As a young voter with personal experience battling mental health, Sanders is my only option.

Like many college students, I hold insurance through my parents. But my insurance company turned their back on my mental health care when I needed it the most. After a months long hunt to find a psychiatrist covered by my CIGNA plan, I emerged empty-handed. Thankful, I found care through my college’s free mental health services, a privilege so few in this country have.

America’s dysfunctional health care system is not run by clinicians. It is entirely controlled by insurance companies whose sole concern is profit gained by denying as many people care as possible. They will do anything to slash costs by raising deductibles, restricting coverage, and increasing co-payments–even if that means patients going bankrupt or dying as the fight for benefits.

America’s dysfunctional health care system is not run by clinicians. It is entirely controlled by insurance companies whose sole concern is profit gained by denying as many people care as possible.

While the insurance industry raked in a record-breaking $23 billion last year, they continued to use decietful tactics against customers seeking mental health care. I experienced first-hand the lengths they go to drive people away from the care they need.

I called CIGNA’s coverage hotline needing guidance, and to my surprise they generously sent a “personally-tailored” contact list featuring a seemingly endless amount of “in-network” options. The sheer number of choices was actually quite overwhelming. Although, I soon realized the phone numbers were disconnected, out-of-network, and not accepting new patients. It turns out, this was not a mistake.

Insurance companies employ this tactic to discourage patients from obtaining mental health benefits. 43 million Americans join me in the plight against mental illness and we all deserve quality care without having to jump through endless hoops just so rich executives can line their pockets.

We desperately need a Medicare-For-All plan that includes comprehensive mental health coverage. No co-payments, no deductibles, no out-of-pocket costs at the point of care. And absolutely no bogus “in-network” contact lists. Sen. Sanders is the only candidate organizing a movement prepared to take on the insurance titans, who are coincidentally spending a large amount of money on advertisements targeting Medicare-For-All during Thursday’s debate.

I soon realized the phone numbers were disconnected, out-of-network, and not accepting new patients. It turns out, this was not a mistake.

Working-class families do not have the luxury of accepting an underdeveloped “Medicare-For-Some” plan proposed by Pete Buttigieg–who is under fire by rivals for working with a private consulting firm frequently hired by insurance companies to “cut costs.” This, we know, is industry code for denying coverage and maximizing profits.

Only Sen. Sanders is championing common sense, Medicare-For-All legislation that includes robust mental health coverage with a sense of urgency. The 78- year-old Brooklyn native says it best, “I wrote the damn bill!

Policy proposals are not enough when we are up against one of the most influential special interest groups in the country. Right now, they are spending enormous amounts of money on lobbying–that we paid for through premiums, deductibles, and co-payments–to kill Medicare-For-All legislation. Is it really such a radical idea that instead of throwing millions of dollars away on lobbying, we use that money to cover the patients who need care?

Policy proposals are not enough when we are up against one of the most influential special interest groups in the country.

Let me be clear, the only way we win a fight against the insurance industry’s enormous influence is by creating a mass movement of millions demanding change. Sen. Sanders has proven to be the lone candidate capable of leading such a “political revolution.”

Yes, impeachment is a captivating and historic moment in history, but we already know how it will play out in the Senate. We cannot lose sight of the very real problems Americans face every day. Countless people in our country are relying on your vote. There is only one Democrat on the ballot next year fighting for real transformative change to our health system and he needs your vote.

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KC Miller

Written by

KC Miller

Philly-based LGBTQ+ activist focusing on sexual health & health care access. Founder of Keystone CASE and University of Pennsylvania nursing student.

Warning Signs

A dive into some of the most important news stories happening around the world.

KC Miller

Written by

KC Miller

Philly-based LGBTQ+ activist focusing on sexual health & health care access. Founder of Keystone CASE and University of Pennsylvania nursing student.

Warning Signs

A dive into some of the most important news stories happening around the world.

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