by Bill Walker
Bernie Sanders had many great ideas on how to reform public policy so that all Americans could be served equally by a just and fair system of government. And now here in Washington State we have the opportunity to begin that transformation with a single-payer health care system that will cover everyone in our state. We’re not the only state to start down this path of lower cost coverage: California, New York, Wisconsin and others are also currently working on similar state initiative.
Health care in the United States is a more than three trillion dollar a year, profit-motivated enterprise that wastes nearly a third of those health care dollars on administrative costs and profit. Consider that there are thousands of different health insurance companies in the country, and all of these companies have different profit margins and costs that they strive to obtain every year. Each company hires people to negotiate insurance premiums, cost of drugs, cost of hospital stays and the life-saving machines that keep us well. Each one of these many insurance companies has a different bottom line that doctors and hospitals have to deal with.
This does not count in all the people who work in the doctor’s offices working with billing and sorting out different insurance plans. Doctors themselves have to also understand the costs and politics of this vast bureaucratic nightmare, pulling their focus away from treating our illnesses.
Every industrialized nation other than the United States has adopted a single-payer system where they spend only half to two thirds what we spend on health care. For this reduced cost, their patients enjoy a much better health care outcome than our dysfunctional system. They have longer life expectancy then we do with lower infant mortality rates. Drug costs are a fraction of what we pay here in America. I’m sure that many readers have seen or heard of someone who goes to Canada to buy medications at a fraction of what we are charged here in Whatcom County.
And now, here in Washington State, we have a chance to even the playing field for all of our residents. Initiative 1600 is being proposed by Whole Washington with the support of the Green Party and hopefully you as well. 300,000 signatures are needed by July 6th to get on the fall 2018 ballot. This initiative will read, in part:
“Establishing the healthy Washington program to provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage for all residents of the state.”
Whole Washington would like to do as much of the signature gathering as possible without using paid signature gatherers, which means many volunteers or other organizations will be needed. If you have even a little bit of time that you can spare, and if you feel strongly about this initiative there are many ways that you can help contribute to this worthy cause. Even getting one signature-gathering sheet and having your friends and family who are registered voters sign it would be of great benefit.
If you want to find out more about Initiative 1600 itself, or to learn how you can participate, you can go to Whole Washington’s web page: wholewashington.org
I thank everyone in advance for any time and/or financial support that you can give to this most worthy of causes.
Bill Walker has lived in the Columbia Valley since 2007 and generally works with individuals with mental health and physical issues. He is a freelance writer working on publishing his first novel about Orcas in the Pacific Northwest.