by Gaby Gross, Alachua County Labor Coalition
Before the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was enacted in 2010, the main work of our organization was to push for single-payer, universal healthcare. We believed then and still do that healthcare is a human right and that its delivery would be less costly and more efficient without the intervention of insurance companies. Although it definitely did not offer universal healthcare, the ACA provided significant improvements in healthcare coverage and it was unfeasible to work against it. The ACLC turned its energy to local issues.
Since then the cost of insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays and many medications have all risen. As a result, many people who are nominally insured forego doctor visits or taking their medications. The 2016 election brought healthcare back to public attention through Bernie Sanders’ campaign and Trump’s threats to revoke the ACA. Although not revoked, the ACA was weakened. Mandatory coverage was abolished and insurance companies were permitted to issue short term plans with lower costs and fewer benefits.
It is exciting that now 70 percent of the public is in favor of Medicare for All and legislation is in place in the House and the Senate. But even if Democrats win the Presidency and both houses in 2020, any healthcare reform will be aggressively opposed by insurance companies. Experts and politicians are considering various proposals about how and whether to transition to Medicare for All, as well as whom and what it should cover and how to pay for it. Public option? Early buy-in of Medicare coverage? One state at a time? Allow some role for insurance companies?
We will be considering these challenges to universal healthcare as well as celebrating the anniversary of Medicare’s enactment. Please join us for discussion and cake at a birthday party for Medicare Saturday July 27, 3 to 5 pm at Working Food, 219 NW 10th Avenue, Gainesville.