As a former health care professional, I appreciate [Xpress’ Jan. 31] issue on the Take Care Wellness Series, Part 1, especially the article on Samantha and Perry Young [“Helping the Helpers: VA Program Supports Caregivers”]. The article concludes with defining a societal “paradigm shift,” one that is open to holistic health care. Another equally significant paradigm shift needs to be offered: a growing acceptance for the role of the federal government in health care. Recent polling indicates 60 percent of Americans favor Medicare for all.
Perry Young receives health care through the Veterans Health Administration, which provides care at 1,243 health care facilities, including 170 VA medical centers and 1,063 outpatient sites to over 9 million veterans. What many people don’t realize: The VA is essentially “socialized” health care, whereby the government provides and pays for health care. Congressional leaders who claim socialized medicine is not viable in the U.S. are being disingenuous. The VA has its flaws, but the Oteen (Asheville) medical center is considered one of the best in the nation, and vets come to Asheville from all over the Southeast.
As a physical therapy assistant in home health, I treated many vets under rehab services provided by the government — Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare for all is not socialized medicine: Health care is publicly funded, but privately delivered. Patients retain control over which physicians to use, and the government pays those physicians. One recalls the American Medical Association vehemently opposed legislation for Medicare in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson advocated for its passage. Things change. There was a paradigm shift, and Medicare has been embraced by most Americans.
Even business leaders are now saying the current health care system is hurting their “bottom line.” For those companies that offer health care to their employees, 17 percent of payroll goes towards health care expenses. Sixty-two percent of American households that file for bankruptcy do so from medical expenses.
I am heartened that Perry Young and his family have not experienced bankruptcy.
It is time the business community enter the health care discussion. There will be an educational forum on “Healthcare for All: Good for Busine$$,” on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7-8:30 p.m. at A-B Tech Ferguson Auditorium, sponsored by HealthCare for All WNC, a regional chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. The forum will feature David Steil, a former Pennsylvania state Republican legislator and midsize business owner, who has helped introduce universal health care legislation in the Pennsylvania legislature when he was president of Healthcare4AllPA. Mr. Steil will describe his own personal “journey” toward universal health care and why it’s “good for business.”
I encourage our WNC Congressional representatives (Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows) to hear David Steil’s case for universal health care. America remains the only industrial country without some form of universal health care. It is time for the next paradigm shift. Medicare for all may even “make America great again.” If we only had the political will to do this.
— Roger Turner