Add Medicare for All to DNC Platform: My Testimony

Three women holding up posters that say "Love it! Improve it! Medicare for All!"

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The full Democratic Platform Committee is meeting this weekend in Orlando, Florida two weeks prior to the Democratic National Convention. I will be attending the National Convention in Philadelphia as a PA-PLEO (Public Leader/Elected Official) delegate.

My biggest issue is access to health care for all. The Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010 has gained access to healthcare for more people in the US.  But not for everyone.  It’s time to take the next step to build upon what is currently in place.

So as part of my advocacy for access to Universal Health Care, I wrote and sent in testimony to the entire Platform Committee and to the members of the PA members of the committee for whom I had an email address.

Here’s that testimony.  If the Medicare for All amendment isn’t added to the platform this weekend, I will do what I can to get it back in at the Convention in Philadelphia.

nighttime picture of the US Capita

We need Medicare for All/aka Universal or Single Payer Health Care at both the national and state levels. Picture of the US Capital courtesy of Rep. Katherine Clark.

Health Care for All Rally Harrisburg005

Advocates for Single Payer Healthcare Rallying in 2009 in Harrisburg, PA

Friday, July 08, 2016

RE: Adding Medicare for All Amendment to the DNC Platform: My Story

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing to ask you to add the Medicare for All amendment language into the Democratic Platform.  As I understand, the amendment language that is being proposed says,

“While making various changes would improve the ACA, the social insurance model, single-payer system, is our goal, and we will continue to fight for it. Health care is a fundamental human right and an important measure of social justice. Achieving universal health care will not come from mandating everyone to buy a health insurance policy from a private insurance company. Instead, we must build on the experience of Medicare, which shows that the most cost-effective and equitable way to provide quality care is through a single-payer system. “Medicare for all” would require updating and expanding the program’s benefits to fit the working population and children, as well as negotiating prices with physicians, providers, and with Pharmaceutical companies for medications that working families–and the country–can afford. Until we achieve a -payer model at the national level states should be allowed to implement universal, publicly financed health care coverage on their own so long as that coverage is affordable and provides a full range of benefits, commensurate with the requirements that apply to all states under the ACA.”

I strongly urge you to add this paragraph into the platform.  FYI, I have read the entire ACA (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment – J ).  I read the entire ACA when it was passed because I wanted to make sure that individuals who have to have a transplant would have both their treatment as well as the treatment of their donor covered without a fight amongst the insurance companies.    I almost died in 1989 because of such a fight – two insurance companies fighting over who would NOT pay for the donor portion of my bone marrow transplant and the hospital refusing to do the transplant until they were guaranteed payment by one or both of the insurance companies.

Here’s an excerpt of my story.  You can read the full story here on my blog — https://civilrightsadvocacy.net/2013/02/20/why-i-support-universal-health-care-a-right-not-a-privilege/.

My life was threatened by the multi-company, private health insurance system we currently have.

I received a bone marrow transplant in 1989 from my identical twin sister. Although I had no problem finding a match, I had to jump through many hoops and barriers put up by the two health insurance companies covering my sister and myself. In the case of my insurance provider, I was refused coverage of the donor portion of the transplant because my twin sister wasn’t on my health insurance plan. In the case of my twin sister’s insurance provider, they refused to cover her portion of the transplant because she “wasn’t sick.” Then the hospital administration said that they would not perform the transplant until this conflict between the two insurance agencies was resolved with a guarantee of payment by either or both companies. And my doctors said that if the resolution did not occur rapidly, I would be dead within the year due to the seriousness of the form of leukemia that I had.

According to Health Care for America, health insurance companies profit by denying–not by providing–healthcare. Health insurance CEOs of the top 10 health insurance companies today typically enjoy an average of $10,000,000 in annual compensation–salary, bonuses, stock options, etc.

Back to my story. I went into battle mode against the insurance companies when I was told that they would let me die because of their bottom line and attempts to deny coverage. Because of the support and advocacy I had through the organization where I self-purchased my health insurance (the National Organization for Women), we were finally able to get me the life-saving transplant that I needed. And I am here today.

This experience is why I became an advocate for a single-payer health care system rather than the current system that allows private companies the ability to deny critical health care to “save” their bottom line for profit only….

Other Reasons why I support a Universal Health Care Plan at Either the National or State Level.

  • It is the ethical and moral to treat all people, regardless of economics or status when they are sick….
  • Some statesare threatening people’s health care and lives based on decisions either by their legislature and/or their governors….
  • A Single Payer, Universal Healthcare program would cover everyone….

As a result of this experience I became actively involved as a member of the board of Healthcare for All PA Education Fund. This non-profit organization is advocating for passage of the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan (HB 1688) (prime sponsor, Pam DeLissio (D-Bucks County).

Thus, given my personal and passionate support for Healthcare for All, and the fact that the US spends 2.5 times the average of other industrialized countries, yet we don’t provide healthcare to everyone; and that Medical outcomes such as infant mortality and life expectancy, and equality of access, are much better in other countries; and that 58% of all Americans support Medicare for All, including 81% of Democrats, we hereby call upon the Democratic Party to adopt this amendment into the Platform of the Democratic Party

Thank you.

Joanne L. Tosti-Vasey, Ph.D.

PA-PLEO Delegate to the Democratic National Convention

Joanne standing in front of a bookcase holding up a sign saying "Rise" to action

Joanne advocating for Medicare for All. Help us advocate for this issue at the national convention through my GoFundMe account. See my PS.

PS. If you’d like to assist me and my friends to attend the Convention in Philadelphia, please check out my GoFundMe site at gofund.me/going2DNCnPhilly. This  will help in my ongoing advocacy for access to healthcare for all.  Thanks.

One thought on “Add Medicare for All to DNC Platform: My Testimony

  1. Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW and commented:
    Joanne is an active NOW member from PA!

    Like

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