Millions Still Face Crushing Medical Debt, Sanders Plan Only Fix
WASHINGTON – National Nurses United today condemned the latest attack by Hillary Clinton on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal for healthcare for all, noting massive problems with cost and access to needed medical care remain for millions of Americans even with implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
NNU also accused the Clinton campaign of deliberately distorting Sanders’ call for Medicare for all by claiming it would “turn over” healthcare to state governors.
“It is Bernie Sanders who, in contrast to the Clinton campaign, clearly understands that our profit-focused healthcare system continues to abandon millions of Americans to crushing medical debt, discrimination based on race, gender or ability to pay, and an inability to buy expensive insurance due to the still high cost,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross.
“It is Bernie Sanders who has clearly said that healthcare is a human right, and stands for everyone to be guaranteed healthcare, as does much of the rest of the world, by expanding Medicare, one of the most successful reforms in U.S. history, to cover all Americans,” Ross said.
“Surely Hillary Clinton knows that Medicare and Medicaid are national programs, and that they would be funded as national programs. To claim that expanding Medicare to all would hand it over to state governors is a crude, inflammatory distortion, and shows an indifference to all those people who continue to be harmed by a broken system,” Ross said.
“Hillary Clinton’s failure to provide her own plan to cover everyone and solve the ongoing healthcare crisis faced by so many while attacking Bernie Sanders for proposing a comprehensive solution is disgraceful,” said Ross.
“We would expect a little more sympathy from a major candidate for President to people struggling with getting the care they and their families need.”
Ross pointed to a recent New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation survey, which found that 20 percent of people under 65 who have health insurance continue to face significant problems with medical bills, despite the ACA.
“We found that that medical bills don’t just keep people from filling prescriptions and scheduling doctors’ visits. They can also prompt deep financial and personal sacrifices, affecting their housing, employment, credit and daily lives,” wrote Times reporter Margot Sanger-Katz January 5.
The Times report found that 63 percent of those burdened by medical bills said they had “used up all or most of their savings,” 42 percent had to take on another job or work more hours, 11 percent had to move or take in roommates, and 11 percent had to turn to charity due to those bills.
While the ACA has helped many people who have faced discrimination by the insurance industry, other recent reports have noted that many people, especially those with lower incomes, are choosing to pay the financial penalty rather than purchase insurance plans that remain costly even under the ACA exchanges, or have such high out-of-pocket costs that people with insurance still skip needed care.
“The recent studies also note that the ongoing crisis in healthcare costs and medical debt is most pronounced for low and middle income people,” Ross continued, “a reminder of the direct link between access to healthcare and massive income inequality.”
“That is a major reason why Bernie Sanders has linked the need for healthcare for all to his signature issue of the income gap. And it’s a major reason why he was endorsed by NNU and nurses across the country continue to campaign for Bernie,” Ross said.
“Today, 29 million people remain uninsured. Tens of millions more remain under insured, facing bankruptcy or the choice of getting the care they need or paying for food or housing for their families.”
“Nurses will never stop campaigning for Medicare for all, the only systemic cure for our inhumane, dysfunctional healthcare system,” Ross said.
National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.