To The Editor:
As a pediatrician, I am disappointed in the failures of our for-profit health care system, especially during the COVID pandemic. It’s time to elect politicians that will fight for universal health care and stand up to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Mondaire Jones is the only candidate in NY17 who supports Medicare For All, and that’s why I’ll be voting for him in the Democratic Primary.
Even though the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, it left insurance companies in charge of our healthcare. There are still over one million New York residents who remain uninsured, a number that will likely grow during this pandemic. In addition, because healthcare is tied to employment, many Americans have been forced to switch providers or have lost health insurance altogether.
Several candidates in this Congressional race say they support a “public option,” but the reality is this fails to address the underlying flaws in our healthcare system. Currently, all children in New York are guaranteed insurance coverage. However, having insurance does not equate to having quality care. Because most sub-specialists in the area where I practice do not accept Medicaid plans (the “public option”), I often have no choice but to refer patients with Medicaid to doctors-in-training or to the ER for subspecialty care. Having a “public option” alongside a for-profit insurance-based model would only exacerbate this two-tiered system of medical care.
Americans need health care that covers ALL medically necessary services, including medications, vision, dental, mental health, and long-term care. Doctors should be the ones to determine if a test or treatment is medically necessary, not a bureaucrat hired by an insurer to keep costs low and profit margins high. I recently had a parent decline her child’s annual vision screening test, a test that is considered standard of care by the American Academy of Pediatrics, because it was not covered by her new insurance provider. That very same week, I spent nearly an hour on the phone trying to convince an administrator that a two year old with headaches really did need an MRI for a suspected brain tumor. We need health coverage models that are determined by evidence-based medicine, not profit margins.
I believe that healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege, and certainly not a commodity to be traded on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange. Mondaire Jones is the only candidate in the NY17 Congressional race that supports Medicare For All, and I look forward to casting my vote for him on June 23rd.
Ivanya L. Alpert, MD