New London council supports federal Medicare for All legislation
New London — The City Council this week unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a show of support for federal legislation that would provide for universal single-payer health care system.
The passage of the resolution by the council on Monday puts New London on the map as the first municipality in the state to take an official stand “in support of people’s needs over industry profits,” said Ronna Stuller, chairwoman of the New London Green Party.
Stuller was among a group of supporters, including Andrew Lopez and former mayoral candidate Frida Berrigan, pushing for support of the measure at City Council meetings over the past several weeks.
While the U.S. health care system is a federal issue, Stuller emphasized to the council that the city’s more than $5 million in insurance premium costs could be cut by 74 percent under such a plan. She said that fact alone likely appealed to the fiscally conservative members of the council.
The resolution that passed by the council is being sent to the offices of Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. Blumenthal previously has endorsed a Medicare for All measure sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders. He has said his goal is universal health insurance but has said he is not in favor of eliminating private insurance “for its own sake.”
Stuller said local grassroots efforts like the one in New London is the only way to get through to legislators who go back to Washington to hear from lobbyists for the for-profit health care, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Critics of the Medicare for All model argue it would force a government-run insurance on people, lead to higher taxes and a lower level of care while raising health insurance premiums for those enrolled in private plans.
Berrigan has said that there are 187,000 people in the state without health insurance and that medical care should be available to all. Lopez additionally has spoken about the disparities in the delivery of health care in the U.S.
“We spend a fortune on health care every year but millions of Americans suffer because they are denied access,” Lopez said.
On Monday, the group of supporters was joined by Mark Joseph Stelzner, an assistant professor of economics at Connecticut College, who said a change in antitrust laws has led to a decrease in competition in the health care industry and subsequently led to higher costs for consumers.
“The idea here is we’re vastly overpaying as a result of the fact we’ve created a system that’s amazing for profits if you’re at the top of these health care industries but awful if you actually want to buy health care,” he said.
Councilor James Burke said the council’s first duty is municipal governance but resolutions like the one passed Monday can be important for the overall cause.
“Millions of dollars in insurance industry profits are coming out of our budgets for public education, public safety and public works,” Burke said in a statement. “Medicare for All will help cities and towns across CT protect the financial health of our public services.”
Councilor Reona Dyess in the statement said, “too many families in our city have to make a decision between co-pays and groceries, dentist visits or utility bills.”
“This resolution urges congress to prioritize human health and wellness over the profits of greedy corporations,” she said.
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