Health care system Arizona

The future of our health care system seems to be hitting the headlines recently. Many Democratic contenders for the presidency are making their announcements to run and, in doing so, have been explaining their position on ways we can fix our health care system.

Their positions have fallen across a diverse spectrum.

You have candidates who are just dipping their toes into the complicated subject, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who says, “A lot of options on the table, a lot of good things for us to talk about.”

We also have candidates such as Sen. Kamala Harris, who says of private insurance, “Let’s eliminate all of that.”

If you think our elected officials are confused about the path we should take to solve our health care, imagine how their constituencies feel.

America’s health care system lives within several silos of complexity. Never has there been a congressional study in which it dissects the health care system and fixes the issues within, but it builds on top of them. I remember President George W. Bush introducing the Medicare Part D program that allowed seniors to buy separate insurance plans for their medications. I also remember President Barack Obama introducing the Affordable Care Act, which mandated that insurance covers those with pre-existing medical conditions and made it mandatory for individuals to have health coverage. Both of those programs had many details; however, to me those were the largest benefits provided to us from those programs.

That brings me to Medicare for All. This is yet another idea on how to fix our health care system. It would bring all Americans into a single, government-run system. My understanding is it would be the equivalent to our country’s Veteran Affairs system, since (sarcasm forthcoming) that is the beacon of hope for how a health care system should run. It is unfortunate to hear the horror stories that our veterans must endure. A basic internet search of Medicare for All reveals that support or opposition to Medicare for All primarily comes down to whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Color me shocked.

I don’t know what the correct answer is to our health care system. That’s why we elect leaders to Congress who hire staffers attempting to solve our country’s problems. However, that does not mean I can’t have my opinion, and that opinion is that we should probably stop trying to create the perfect system, because there simply isn’t one. Medicare for All is going to cost trillions of dollars in taxes and would never stand a chance of getting out of a partisan, gridlocked Congress. However, do you know what has already passed Congress? The Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act passed and has survived dozens of Republican-led votes to repeal it. We all remember when our late Sen. John McCain took to the floor of the Senate with the thumbs-down-heard-round-the-world. Wouldn’t the best move be to try and improve the working system we have, instead of throwing it out and starting again with a lofty idea that brings barrels of political ramifications? The Affordable Care Act is our best chance to keep the ball rolling up the hill of insuring millions of Americans and providing them quality health care.

The Democratic candidates for president should embrace the Affordable Care Act and provide us solutions to improve upon the current system. Republicans who bash Medicare for All should instead give us solutions to improve the system they for so long have tried to repeal. I know this will require the increasingly rare cooperation between parties, but both parties need to realize this is the only realistic way of improving our health care. It is not about the Democratic agenda, nor is it about the Republican agenda. It is about America’s agenda. 

– Cesar Chavez serves in the Arizona House of Representatives for District 29, which covers west Phoenix/Glendale areas.