By David Swanson
Canada did not create a civilized healthcare system nationally until its provinces led the way. Clearly Congress is dragging behind the states in our country, and it is through state successes that we will eventually compel the U.S. government to provide our people with this basic human right.
Hawaii has a single-payer healthcare system. California’s legislature has passed a single-payer bill three times but not yet found a governor to sign it into law. Single-payer healthcare bills are advancing in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and a growing list of states, including New Mexico, where State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a long-time supporter of single-payer healthcare, is running for Lieutenant Governor. In Minnesota, single-payer champion John Marty is running for Governor.
I recently wrote about North Carolina house candidate Marcus Brandon, who has pledged to introduce a bill to create single-payer healthcare in that state as his first act in office. Now a formidable candidate for state representative in Missouri has made a similar commitment.
Byron DeLear, whom I have known and learned from for years, said on Monday: “If elected, I will sponsor the ‘Melanie-Care for All Act’, providing a simple plan to get all of our Missourian families the coverage, protection and care we deserve.” DeLear, is a state rep. candidate in the 79th District of Missouri. (See http://www.ByronDeLear.org ) and who is Melanie?
DeLear explains: “A dear friend of mine, Melanie Shouse, recently passed away from breast cancer. She found a lump in her breast but couldn’t afford to see a doctor. Through the course of her disease she tirelessly continued to advocate for healthcare for all as a moral imperative. I met her through our shared work as concerned citizens and like many of her friends and colleagues was inspired by her unbridled energy and enthusiasm to effect positive change. Even in the midst of great personal suffering, Melanie selflessly put it all on the line and did the best she could to help us all. Her story was propelled to the national stage with President Obama mentioning her in a speech and culminating with ‘Melanie’s March’ from Philadelphia to Washington DC, ending with a rally attended by Senate leader Harry Reid and other members of Congress.”
DeLear is proposing to accomplish something, however, that neither Obama nor Reid will even entertain any discussion of: taking the profit-motive out of healthcare coverage. “If Melanie had access to affordable healthcare,” DeLear says, “her untimely death might have been prevented. Seeing a doctor was simply too expensive, just as it is for tens of thousands of Missourians, whose fear of skyrocketing healthcare costs are justified. Health insurance premiums in Missouri have risen 82.5% in the last decade, consequently, the vast majority of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical costs, for both the insured and uninsured alike. This creates a specter of fear for families all across our state. Melanie’s death is one of thousands of needless lives lost due to our current broken and inhumane healthcare insurance system.”
DeLear provides the statistics for the nation and his state: “According to a recent Harvard Study, 45,000 Americans perish each year due to lack of preventive or primary healthcare. This equals approximately 800 Missourians like Melanie. 800 Missourians die each year due to our broken healthcare system. This is a moral crisis, and suggests that we should all take a step back from the raging debate to ask ourselves, in a perfect world, what would our ideal system be? What do we want for the family of Missouri? And then takes steps to make that ideal a reality, or get as close to it as possible.”
DeLear proposes something that has never been mentioned in over a year of endless, tireless, and tiresome healthcare debating in Washington, namely looking for a minute at all the nations that have already solved this problem and asking how they have done so: “Many nations have struggled with the health-care debate before us. What’s the best way to adopt complete healthcare coverage for all? The world is full of examples of different solutions to this question. But the trends over time are very specific. What they show is that . . . universal coverage, regardless of class distinctions, is the desirable end result. This goes to the heart of what insurance is and mathematically what ‘risk pools’ are all about. Pooling risk makes a community, state, and nation stronger. It protects us all against personal catastrophe. Currently, in the United States, health insurance corporations cherry pick through the populace to determine who’s worthy of coverage, or how to deny care once you become sick. This is at odds with the healing mandate of the medical profession, and has to be turned around.”
DeLear makes an unequivocal commitment, saying “The right thing to do, is to cover all our citizens with healthcare. Medicare covers and protects more than 800,000 Missourians. The first bill I will support will be a Medicare-for-All type plan for Missouri. In honor of our local heroine, Melanie Shouse, if elected, I will sponsor the ‘Melanie Care for All Act’, providing a simple plan to get all of our Missourian families the coverage, protection and care we deserve.”
Byron DeLear’s website is at
He needs all the help he can get, and there is a little button on his site reading “Make Donation”. Those who want a real healthcare system in this country would be wise to pour money into his campaign and those of other state leaders across the country.
Alternatively we could keep putting all our eggs in the basket of fantasies about the United States Senate getting its act together and fixing bills after they’re passed.