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"The Public Option" - Medicare For All

Imagine if your house were on fire and when you called the fire department, the operator demanded a credit card payment of $999.99 before they would allow you to speak with the dispatcher. This is the current healthcare system. We are sick and need help, so they charge us extra because we have no choice. As I have said for years, I believe in a single payer “medicare for all” system to bring the US in line with the rest of the world. Nevertheless, healthcare is a striking example of how the profit motive destroys essential services.  The constant increase in the cost of healthcare is driven by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, for profit clinics and hospitals.  A doctor is no longer a servant of the community, but a brand, a profit center for an overarching entitlement class of profiteers.

The primary issue driving up the cost of healthcare is artificial scarcity: we artificially limit the number of licensed doctors.  We all know it’s almost impossible to get into medical school. You must have an outstanding GPA and MCATS just to apply, and then we only accept 20,000 new doctors a year nationally, roughly 40% of those who are qualified.  Add to that the reality that a quarter of all doctors will reach retirement age in the next few years.  

Who benefits from this scarcity?

Rural communities in particular are short of doctors, and this is especially evident in Vermont. Paul Harrington,  the executive vice president of the Vermont Medical Society, says thirty percent of the state's primary care doctors are over the age of 60, which means the shortage will get worse in just a few years (VPR). If we treated medicine like the important social service it truly is, we would address this crisis directly, increase the number of people we accept into medical schools. Instead, the first question is always, how do we squeeze more profit out of the consumer; solving this crisis does not make it to the floor.

New UVM Medical School in Springfield VT.

When I am in the US House, I will sponsor legislation to build Medical Schools in underserved rural communities. If we double the number medical students in rural states, we could use incentives like free tuition to encourage more doctors to plant roots in the community.  Imagine if students were invited to attend Medical School in VT; they could graduate with no debt provided they practice primary care in VT for a comfortable wage. Not only will this address the well documented shortage of doctors, it would totally revitalize an area like Springfield. Once an economic engine of Northern New England, Springfield made the weapons for world war one, but now there are few high paying jobs, little industry, little hope.  Imagine if all the people of Southern VT who currently go to Dartmouth for serious care, could attend a world class teaching hospital in Springfield? Imagine a Dental School in Springfield where lower income families could get treatment, and students could practice under skilled mentors. As it is, people in Springfield have a perpetually under-resourced hospital, but plenty of fentanyl.

Committee to Elect Ben Mitchell
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