We have the finest health care system in the world IF you can afford it.

For millions of Americans, the vast majority of which are working poor that work 60-70 hours a week at two and sometimes three jobs and still can’t afford health care for themselves or their family.

How can we claim to be the greatest nation on earth while failing to take care of our own citizens many, who through no fault of their own, simply cannot afford basic health care? Some will argue “That is not my problem” but it everyone’s problem. Emergency rooms are the only place some can go to get routine health care or in many cases, because they do not have access to doctors or even affordable urgent care, relatively minor health issues become significant or even life threatening. Who pays for emergency room care that typically runs ten to twenty times the cost of a simple visit to doctor’s office? Those that have health insurance do. Hospitals must make up the loss in higher rates for those who have insurance. The insurance companies are not going to absorb the cost so they must pass it on to their customers in higher health insurance premiums. Add in other factors such as some of the highest prescription drug cost in the developed world, the high cost of educating our physicians and a torte system that drives up the cost of medical malpractice insurance and it becomes abundantly clear why health care costs so much in this country.

The Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, was the first major step to provide affordable health care insurance to millions of uninsured Americans. It was flawed but 24 million Americans now have health insurance because of it.  Congress could have easily fixed those flaws through additional legislation repeatedly requested by President Obama but chose instead to devote their copious amounts of free time, as they accomplished little else in the last eight years, to repeated attempts at repeal with no decent replacement.  One effort though was successful in crippling the act.  Our own Sen. Marco Rubio sabotaged the Act by slipping a provision into a 2014 spending bill ending the risk corridors that protected insurance companies from taking significant losses should the cost of medical care exceed the revenue received from policy holders. This is the reason insurers have left the program. The risk was just too great. The bottom line is, Congress sabotaged the program and then blamed the results on the Democrats. Just one of the many examples of Republicans in Congress and their surrogates on the air waves refusing to take responsibility for hurting their constituents.

The Republican health care plan passed in the U.S. House of Representatives is the most self-serving, cold blooded piece of legislation passed by a house of Congress in recent history. That coupled with President’s proposed budget that cuts $800 billion from Medicaid, cuts Medicare and funding for many programs that impact millions of Americans including the most vulnerable, our children and the elderly. As a Christian, I am personally appalled by the cruelty displayed by this Congress. Simply unconscionable!

The solution to affordable health care for all Americans is a single payer healthcare system patterned on Medicare.  We currently spend about 10% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care. Using 2016 numbers that equates to about $1.86 Trillion Americans spent last year on healthcare. By contrast Canada spent just 6% of its GPD on health care which is in line with most industrialized nations. The health insurance and the additional cost doctors and other health care professionals incur dealing with the insurance companies represents 33% of total health care expenditures. If we transitioned to a similar system used by our neighbors to the north, where the government operates a health care exchange much like Medicare, we would save $750 billion while providing excellent health care to  every man woman and child from the time they are born until they pass. To be clear this is not “socialized medicine.” Doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers would remain private and could set their own prices for their services just as they do today. The vast majority would however, choose to accept the standard fee much as they do today for their patients on medicare or any other insurance plan they choose to accept.  Additionally, this would have the benefit of saving businesses of all sizes billions of dollars a year providing them with a stable premium rate to cover their employees while eliminating personal bankruptcy cases due to medical debt. Personal bankruptcy represents 62% of all cases again costing business additional billions of dollars. Dollars that can be used to hire more employees, raise employees wages, invest in growing their business or as dividends to their stockholders.