Why I Support Medicare For All
Every American needs and deserves health coverage.
When it comes to providing affordable health care for every American, there is more we must do right now to change the status quo, improve our health care system and lower costs.
That is why I have introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the FAIR Drug Pricing Act, to take on sky-high prescription drug costs by holding drug companies accountable for price hikes. I also am working across party lines on bipartisan solutions to stabilize the insurance marketplace, reduce families’ health costs and get more people covered. We must act now to stabilize and strengthen the individual market to help Americans buy insurance at more affordable prices for 2018.
My own personal experience as a child has always inspired my work in public service to do everything I can to make sure that every American has quality and affordable health care coverage. When I was 9 years old, I got really sick and was diagnosed with a serious childhood illness. I spent three months in the hospital. I was raised by my grandparents, and, when I got better, they looked for an insurance policy that would cover me in the future. However, because of my previous illness, they couldn’t find such a policy. Not from any insurer. Not at any price. They had to pay for my health care out of pocket — and they had to make enormous sacrifices to do so — all because I was a child who had been branded with those words: “pre-existing condition.”
Before the Affordable Care Act, families weren’t protected against being denied coverage or charged more because of a past illness. Today, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against someone based on their pre-existing condition. I championed the health reform that allows young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26. These reforms have led to millions more Americans having the health insurance they need. We have made great progress in making things better.
Congressional Republicans have offered a number of repeal plans that would increase the number of people who are uninsured and force many families to pay more for less care.
The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take people’s health care away, so I fought against these repeal plans. Instead of making things worse, I believe we should move forward to expand coverage and make health care more affordable, not more costly.
Every American should have affordable health coverage, and there is more we can do to make that a reality. I always have believed that our goal must be universal health care coverage for everyone, and my support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation is a statement of that belief.
With this reform, we would simplify a complicated system for families and reduce administrative costs for businesses. It would expand coverage to all the uninsured, make health care more affordable for working, middle-class families and reduce growing prescription drug costs for taxpayers.
This reform will help us achieve universal coverage for everyone and is one of many paths we can take to expand coverage and lower health care costs. Last month, I helped introduce the Medicare at 55 Act, which would provide an option for people between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare. I am working with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to soon introduce legislation to allow states to offer people a choice to buy into the Medicaid program. This would grant more Wisconsinites the opportunity to enroll in our popular BadgerCare program. And Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is working on a reform that would provide all Americans, individuals and companies with a public option to purchase Medicare.
What all of these proposals have in common is a commitment to the belief that every American deserves affordable health coverage. If both parties look past the partisan debate in Washington, we can find common ground today on solutions that work for the American people.
It is time to move forward.
Forward toward the day when we make good on the guarantee of high quality, affordable health care coverage for every American. That is a goal worth reaching, and, as Americans, we shouldn’t let anyone tell us we can’t.
Tammy Baldwin is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.
This column originially ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.