Healthcare as a Human Right

Robin has been active in the fight for universal, single-payer healthcare since observing how the military benefits her brother received, had made it possible for him to recover and thrive after being severely injured while serving in Iraq. Too many Americans are paying exorbitant premiums and deductibles before seeing any actual coverage, effectively leaving them with far more costs than benefits. Others have no coverage at all and are dependent on emergency rooms or self-treatment- which end up costing us all more in the long run.

If elected to Congress, Robin would immediately sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1384, Expanded and Improved Medicare For All, and advocate for a government that recognizes health care as a human right. Besides making every American eligible for Medicare, H.R. 1384 would expand Medicare to cover dental and vision services, mental health, and substance abuse treatment, and long term care.

Robin would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from funding comprehensive women's health care.

A Longtime Advocate

Robin has been a health care activist since 2006, organizing events to defend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) when it came under threat from the Bush Administration. In 2009, at the height of the health care debate that culminated with the passage of Obamacare, she organized a Health Care Town Hall for Medicare for All that attracted more than 500 people, including Rep. John Conyers, then the lead sponsor of the Medicare For All bill (H.R. 676).

 

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Rep. John Conyers, lead sponsor of H.R. 676,

poses with Robin and her husband Nick at the Health Care Town Hall.

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Robin introduces the speakers at the Health Care Town Hall.

 

Single Payer Health Care: A Success Story

Robin witnessed the benefits of single-payer health care firsthand when her brother Will was injured in Iraq in 2004. The injury eventually forced Will to retire from the Army and to have his left leg amputated, but the healthcare system has been there for him every step of the way. The military prides itself on delivering comprehensive patient care; as stated to prospective physicians, “…You’ll practice medicine in one of the few places in the world where comprehensive patient care is a top priority. Insurance companies never dictate the course of treatment – Army physicians do.” 

 

Driving down cost: Allow Government to Cover Healthy Patients

Our healthcare system is designed to socialize risk and privatize profit. Consider who is eligible for government-funded health care: active duty service members in the military; veterans; the elderly; and the poor. Recipients of Social Security Disability (SSD) become Medicare-eligible after a two-year waiting period. The government is responsible for health care of the most expensive patient bases; private health insurance companies cover the healthier, more profitable patient bases. By treating health care as a human right, and making it a government entitlement available to everyone, with no exceptions, we can drive down the per capita cost of health care, bringing costs down in line with other industrialized nations, which spend a smaller percentage of GDP while getting better outcomes.

 

Decoupling Health Care From Employment

Medicare For All would decouple health care benefits from employment. Today, anyone who changes their job or loses their job runs the risk of losing their health insurance, or switching vendors and becoming unable to continue seeing their preferred caregivers.

Recently, General Motors unilaterally denied health benefits to striking workers, including the workers here in Monroe County. The company reversed its stance after a backlash, but the episode served to underscore the importance of freeing workers' health benefits from the whims of their employers.

 

Health Care In Monroe County

We don’t need to look outside our own county to see the absurdity of our current healthcare system. Robin recalls when the War Memorial building was renamed to the BlueCross Arena, our premiums paying for stadium naming rights. Or the loss of our Genesee Hospital, as documented in the Democrat and Chronicle's Whatever Happened to Genesee Hospital?. Genesee Hospital was closed and demolished after serving the community for more than a century - a victim to a misguided attempt to drive costs down through competition, at the former site now stands the headquarters of private health insurer MVP.

As our representative Robin will continue to push for Expanded and Improved Medicare For All, and advocate for a government that recognizes health care as a human right!

 

 

Robin and Nick with Pramila Jayapal,

Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and lead sponsor of H.R. 1384.

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