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This World Health Day, We Still Need Single-Payer Universal Healthcare to Address Disparities

Vijay Das

This past Saturday, April 7th, was the 68th World Health Day, the day the world commemorates the importance of universal health care. America has a long way to go.

In the op-ed I wrote for Univision, I explain that while the United States has made strides to advance health access with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health access remains a struggle for far too many families. Latinx households, in particular, feel the squeeze.

We need to continue to push Medicare for All, single payer universal health care. It will help Latinx patients who, despite major advances, remain the most uninsured population.

Many Latinx workers don’t get good health care on the job. Undocumented patients are ineligible for government-funded insurance and subsidized private health insurance. For those with insurance, out-of-pocket costs in the form of monthly premiums, copays and deductibles cause deep financial stress.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has certainly boosted health access for people of color. With the recent attacks on the Affordable Care Act from President Trump and congressional Republicans, it’s valuable to shore up its gains and hold off efforts to undermine it. But Latinx families need a much bolder vision for improved health access. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t help enough undocumented patients, and its private marketplace health plans are out of reach, still.

Single-payer universal health care remains the optimal approach to address health access disparities. Last September, 15 senators joined U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce his latest version of Medicare for All. Last month, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) agreed to take up the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Much of the newfound energy to advance Medicare for All speaks to the moment we are in as a nation, and the limits of the politics that produced Obamacare, a compromise solution based on a for-profit health system that’s sub-optimal both in controlling overall health care expenditures and expanding coverage for all.

From universal health care to advancing pathways to citizenship and guaranteeing paid time to care, Demos’ recently-produced federal policy agenda elevates the needs of Latinx and all people of color to obtain a better future, while advancing opportunities for all. Our agenda propels solutions progressives can adopt to lift up all families coast-to-coast. Medicare for All is part of that ambitious agenda. Lawmakers and community leaders must consider these if they want to be responsive to the challenging economic conditions of the time we are in.