A national necessity

It’s time to provide comprehensive health care for everyone

The author, a retired Chico State English professor, has lived in Chico for 45 years and is active in the League of Women Voters and other community service organizations.

Health care spending in the U.S. towers over that of other industrialized nations. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up from its dead-last quality rating between 2004 and 2014, it also stayed at the bottom while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system.

This and other depressing statistics make clear that the U.S. needs to achieve comprehensive coverage for everyone that has good outcomes and doesn’t bankrupt the sick and their families.

Advocating for universal, affordable health care seems straightforward, but it has become a political football around the issue of whether health coverage is a personal choice or an absolute necessity. The efforts to weaken or repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court’s potential elimination of federal subsidies for states without their own exchanges leave health care coverage to those who can afford it.

A Harvard study found that over 46 percent of bankruptcies were tied to medical costs, and 87 percent of the 11.4 million who have signed up for care under the ACA needed some form of assistance to afford it.

With a profit-driven health care system, costs will continue to rise as more people suffer the effects of preventable and treatable ailments.

The ACA is making a dent in rising health care costs and the number of uninsured, but it is a complex system with a mix of federal and state exchanges and continues to depend on profit-driven insurance companies to provide coverage.

It cannot achieve universal coverage and cannot make private insurers care more about patients than stockholders.

After much research starting 25 years ago, the national League of Women Voters is calling for policies that provide universal and affordable health care for all U.S. residents. Here in Butte County, the local chapter is updating its position to continue pushing toward a system that provides comprehensive health care as a national necessity.

To help us understand the current health care situation, Enloe Medical Center is inviting the public to attend a panel discussion titled Report Card on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, April 16, 6-8 p.m., at the Enloe Conference Center. The panel includes Dr. Richard Thorp of Paradise Medical Group Inc., Dr. Bill Skeen of Physicians for a National Health Program California, and Amber Kemp of the California Hospital Association. Mike Wiltermood, Enloe CEO and president, will moderate.