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Cities could benefit by backing Medicare for All

In communities across our nation, health care costs are both a burden and a great source of concern. As co-payments, prescription drug prices, and insurance companies’ profits continue to rise, so do the number of uninsured and underinsured families. The United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee universal health care to its citizens. The current model of health insurance, primarily provided by the employer and motivated by profit, is terribly flawed. Growing numbers of us do not have the security of an employer who offers insurance benefits, and those with coverage are burdened with crippling deductibles and copayments. Additionally, the cost of providing quality health insurance to employees is a barrier to small business creation and growth.

As employers, Connecticut municipalities would greatly benefit from the shift to a federal single-payer health insurance program, such as Medicare for All. Here in New London, during fiscal year 2019-2020, the total cost of health care for employees working in our school district was over $8 million, nearly $1.9 million more than the previous year, a 29 percent increase.

During that budget cycle the property tax rate was cut by 8.5 percent while our schools received a $652,880 increase to mitigate only some of the increased cost of premiums. We continue to strive for equitable budgets that provide much-needed tax relief, while funding our services for success. But with health insurance costs rising faster than our ability to increase revenues, it will be corporations that see the benefits of our fiscal responsibility, not the families in our community.

It is impossible to overstate how important it is to control the growth of health insurance costs. Millions of dollars in insurance industry profits are coming out of our budgets for public education, public safety, and public works. If left unchecked, this trend of double-digit growth will leave the financial health of our public services devastated for generations to come.

A federal Medicare For All system would provide a great benefit to towns across our state, but especially cities like New London, where a large amount of nontaxable land limits opportunities for revenue. Senator Richard Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of Medicare for All. As elected leaders in our city, we urge our congressional delegation to fight for a federal single-payer health care system.

Last week a group of New London residents submitted a resolution in support of Medicare for All for consideration by the New London City Council. Having officially received it for the record, we encourage our fellow elected colleagues to give this matter thoughtful consideration. Single-payer health care will save municipalities millions of dollars, money that can be spent improving public safety and bolstering education.

James Burke is a member of the New London City Council and Jefferey Hart a member of the New London Board of Education.

 

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