Jesse Robison

Jesse Robison

As the 2020 presidential campaign gains momentum many of us are looking for a candidate who will actually serve the majority of Americans. Key to this will be the election of a stable, pragmatic person who can work with people on both sides of the aisle.

America needs a leader with problem-solving skills as it faces critical issues from international conflicts and climate concerns, to spiraling government and consumer debt, and our fatally flawed healthcare system.

It is not in our best interest to re-elect a president who falsely promised to create quality, affordable medical care for all Americans.

The next president’s position regarding healthcare is of paramount concern because the existing system is a crushing disaster for numerous citizens. The United States has affordable medical care for those with wealth, those on Cadillac private insurance, and the “lucky ones” who qualify for Medicaid.

However, many in America deal with mediocre coverage and bankruptcy threatening expense when we get sick. Americans borrowed $88 billion in 2018 to pay for non-covered medical expenses (I’m part of that statistic), and we are carrying a trillion dollars in accumulated debt solely because of our unfair healthcare system (see Gallup polling results reported in the New Yorker, April 2, 2019).

My disgust with America’s system has nothing to do with the people who work in medicine. Most people in the medical field are dedicated professionals. My ire comes from the perpetuation of a financially exorbitant system that dispenses discriminatory health care.

We will never fix the majority of America’s healthcare problems until we adopt a single-payer system. Phasing out private health insurance and controlling those who profiteer off the sick is essential.

The ultimate question is what system to adopt? A number of the Democratic candidates are advocating for Medicare for all. I somewhat agree, but we need to improve Medicare if we are to move past mediocrity and catastrophic medical expense as the norm.

I have studied Medicare recently for a client facing costly non-covered bills, and also because I am nearing the age of personal relevance. To put it eloquently, our current Medicare system sucks. It is way too costly to the consumer, way too complicated, and often leaves people with substantial unpaid medical bills for critical care. It also does not provide coverage for dental or optical needs.

My approaching Medicare eligibility had me naively thinking I would be saved from America’s healthcare system. I assumed, as a geezer’s benefit, that I would finally acquire quality medical coverage without having to worry about excessive medical expenses wreaking financial ruin.

Guess again. My best option as an advancing elder for financially surviving America’s current system is to not get sick and pray for a fatal aneurysm or heart attack.

Why replace the existing health care mess with a mediocre policy for all? If the U.S. is going to fix this problem let’s do it once and for all, and do it right.

Medicaid offers far better benefits than Medicare (it is the most comprehensive coverage in America) and does not expose people to excessive unpaid bills. Twenty percent of our society is already covered by Medicaid, which is based upon a federal model that has better controls because it is administered at the state level.

We should revise Medicare to encompass Medicaid’s broader coverage levels adding vision and dental benefits in order to advance the overall health of our society. The government would have to raise certain payment rates so that medical providers will receive sustainable compensation (lucrative private insurance payments would disappear), but those costs would be absorbed by the tremendous savings realized through utilization of a single-payer system.

As it stands, the only way to gain the most comprehensive medical coverage in America is to be so destitute you can’t afford any kind of medical coverage, which qualifies you for Medicaid. Or to be lucky enough to live in one of the states that has expanded Medicaid for lower income people.

Americans have had it with our existing healthcare system. The same April 2, 2019, New Yorker article reports that recent polling shows most of us want more than tweaking done to our medical system. An October 28, 2018, poll revealed 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for all, and that 52 percent of Republicans are in support of the general concept.

Those numbers would increase if we used a Medicaid blueprint to improve Medicare. No more wading through option A, B, C & D coverage issues for Medicare along with the myriad of personal policies one needs to consider; just one quality, comprehensive coverage for all funded by a single payer.

Is it really that hard to comprehend adopting something so simple that already exists for 20 percent of Americans? Most of the industrialized world figured out some form of a single-payer system a long time ago. Our continuing failure to move forward with meaningful reform is the reason why we have the most expensive and convoluted healthcare in the world.

Some will claim that adopting improved Medicare for all is too expensive, but that would not be true if we simplified our system and eliminated the profiteering. Those who claim Medicare for everyone would be too costly often have special interest agendas.

Corporations would be able to contribute significantly more tax revenue if they no longer had to fund private insurance programs. Individuals would not be staggering from their premiums and the added weight of borrowing billions every year for non-covered expenses.

There are so many evident and hidden costs that would be eliminated by the adoption of single-payer healthcare, and all of us would be able to make otherwise advantageous employment and economic decisions without losing our medical coverage. Americans could stop fearing treatment for illness due to its financial impacts and focus on their health; what a concept.

The reason we haven’t been able to fix our system is because many politicians are bought by special interests. Voters need to study the donation and voting history of the incumbents to identify those who have been selling out the American people for campaign contributions. Congress is loaded with these loathsome creatures (we have them in Idaho), and they should be dispensed at the ballot box.

Let’s stop applying band-aid remedies to gaping wounds. We need to elect a president and a Congress that will adopt essential healthcare reform instead of blowing false promises. It’s time that quality, affordable medical care becomes a right for all Americans rather than a benefit for the privileged and economically disadvantaged.

Jesse Robison is a Pocatello native who has lived in Mexico and other places. He was educated at Idaho State University and University of Idaho. Robison works as a mediator and insurance law consultant, but his passion is public art. He has spearheaded numerous art improvements throughout Pocatello, including the Japanese garden located at Pocatello Regional Airport, and he serves on the Bistline Foundation. Robison currently resides in Pocatello.