Universal health care should be national priority
When you are traveling the world to photograph adventure and extreme sports in unforgiving environments, you have an inordinate number of opportunities to experience the health care systems of various countries. I have to tell you that America has the worst health care system I've experienced. Not the technology, nor the doctors and nurses — they are probably among the best in the world — but the access and the bureaucracy and the cost of health care in the U.S. makes it the least effective for the overall population.
It is also a system that seems designed to suck the lifeblood out of the people rather than provide health care for the people. Unless you've been very lucky, I assume that you can remember a time or two when it seemed like your insurance company was doing everything possible to deny payment for something that should have been covered. Do you know that in most of the countries I visited, there is no kind of illness or accident or preventative care that is not covered? And you don't have to argue with anyone or fill out reams of forms or spend hours on the phone — you go in, you get treated, you walk out. Period.
The reason for this is that America is the last industrialized country on the face of the earth without some form of universal health care.
This is not some newfangled idea. U.S. presidents as far back as Theodore Roosevelt have proposed various ideas to get us there, but the people making vast profits have always opposed it and until Obama, we've never really gotten close. Now you have the party in power attempting to roll back the mediocre improvements that the ACA made. Congress just allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire! The Trump administration has worked to make it more difficult to apply for health care through rule changes.
It is absolutely possible to create a health care system that is top quality, serves everyone and doesn't increase the amount of money the average person spends on their health care. That's why I'm particularly proud of the resolution the Milwaukie City Council passed unanimously this month. Well aware that the solution will not come from Washington, our resolution calls on the state to provide equitable, comprehensive, affordable, high quality, publicly funded, universal health care for everyone in Oregon. Our citizens deserve nothing less.
Mark Gamba is mayor of Milwaukie, and the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Milwaukie City Council or staff.