By Brady Rivera
We’ve heard this line before — our medical system, as it is now, is very unreliable and expensive for ordinary mortals. You pay thousands of dollars to for-profit insurance companies, and you still have to pay hundreds of dollars for drugs and services not covered by our plans.
With so much money coming out of our pockets and so many gaps in our plans, we begin to wonder why we are being charged so much for insurance.
But what can we do about it? We have the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which helps connect residents to health insurers to provide them with the best and safest options. He’s helped countless people get coverage they wouldn’t otherwise get. But is it really enough? Tens of millions of people continue to do not have any form of health insurance while the most expensive health care system in the world continues to become even more unaffordable.
Mercer County has significant Hispanics (18.5% or 71,658 people) and Blacks (21.5% or 83,278 people) communities. As a public health worker at Mercer, I see how our current healthcare system helps our community somewhat, but still leaves many more of us behind, especially people of color.
Being on the front lines of health care and the COVID-19 pandemic, and coming from the Trenton-Hamilton area where one of the largest concentrations of black and Hispanic people is, too many of us are suffering from not be insured.
In both communities, more than 1 in 5 of us are uninsured. This is an absurd statistic that really shows us how, despite living in the richest country in the world and spending the most on health care, we are failing communities of color and not doing enough to address this negligence.
This doesn’t even mention the poverty ceiling created by the eligibility requirements for the ACA grant program. If these individuals or families earn more money, they risk exceeding the income thresholds for these programs and losing their health coverage.
This creates an incentive to stay below a certain income level, discourages upward class mobility, and keeps wealth stagnant – all to be able to keep health care coverage barely affordable. An income-based program risks leaving thousands of people behind. It becomes a racial problem as much as a public health problem.
Many here in our own Mercer County already understand this, including many of our legislators. Representative Bonnie Watson-Coleman is co-sponsor of the Medicare For All House Bill and the Board of County Commissioners adopted unanimously a resolution asking Congress to pass it. the Princeton and Trenton city councils passed local resolutions calling for the bill to be passed.
We can’t wait any longer. There is a growing movement for a scaled solution to the crisis in our healthcare system. Several residents of the state’s 3rd Congressional District attended town halls and urged our delegation to support Medicare For All, and to continue to do so.
Representative Andy Kim, this is an urgent appeal to you to support Medicare for All.
The ACA was never meant to be the end; it was supposed to be a step forward to improve our system. If we want to be the wealthiest, most innovative nation on the planet, we need to take care of the people who do the work to make us who we are.
Brady Rivera is Elections Chairman with Our Revolution Trenton Mercer.
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