Letter to the editor: Biggest challenge to single-payer system is political

DR. TARYN LAWLER | Viroqua

As a physician, my responsibility is to provide the best care possible to my patients. Many factors help me fulfill that responsibility: continuing education about innovative treatments, the insights of my colleagues, and of course, the efforts of my patients themselves.

Unfortunately, another factor dramatically limits the degree to which I can provide care: health insurance. Often, the treatment that best meets a patient’s needs is not covered by his or her insurer. Sky-high deductibles mean that even when the best treatment is technically covered, some patients are unable to afford it. For many, ever-rising premiums force them to go without insurance altogether.

These problems have a solution: single-payer healthcare (also often called “Medicare for all”). Most other developed countries have some form of a single-payer system. These systems result in better health outcomes and save money. The U.S. spends double the per capita average of other developed countries on healthcare, yet ranks average or below-average in terms of health outcomes.

Implementing a single-payer system would pose some technical hurdles, but the biggest challenge is political. Too many of our elected officials benefit — in the form of campaign contributions — from the massive profits of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. It’s time we elect representatives who will prioritize people over profit and work for a single-payer system. In the Wisconsin 96th District Assembly race, Alicia Leinberger is the only candidate committed to doing just that. That’s why she has my vote in the Aug. 14 primary.

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