Dear Chairpersons Friedman and Lawn, and members of the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance,
I’m a resident of Florence, writing to supply evidence supporting An Act Establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts.
I’ve worked as a front-line private physician providing medical care for 40 years. I’ve directly seen the strengths and weaknesses of our medical system, and I see that our healthcare insurance system is failing all of us. I’ve seen the great work of some of the best doctors in the world. I’ve been joined at the bedside by some of the most dedicated and hardworking nurses you can imagine. And I’ve seen up-close how our private medical insurance system hurts almost everyone- people, caregivers, employers, and our society too. I’ve seen a young diabetic woman die because she didn’t have enough money to pay for insulin. I’ve seen several people wait until their cancer got too advanced because they were afraid of the cost of treatment. I’ve seen many people hurt as Covid ravaged poor communities with our non-functional system despite many people “having insurance.” I’ve seen people making impossible trade-offs between paying for their medical care vs paying for their food.
The price we pay for our profit-driven medical insurance system is very high- it’s paid in illness, suffering, and even death. Every other modern country in the world uses single payer health insurance because it’s the best (and most cost-effective) way to pay for healthcare. Other countries pay half of what we pay and have better health outcomes. Our young women should never die during childbirth while bringing our next generation of children into this world. Our older people with limited incomes shouldn’t struggle to pay for their medicines while drug companies make fortunes. For many years our system has been failing. It provides low-quality care at a very high cost, while delivering too little real medical care to people. Everyones’ lives would be better if a single payer system became part of the social fabric of our society.
We need a single payer system that works for people and prioritizes quality medical care over profits, like all the other modern countries in the world. We could have a single payer system here if we just develop the political will to improve our system. Single payer healthcare is extremely popular. Just ask any Medicare recipient if they would ever willingly give up their single payer healthcare to return to private insurance!
In the past, Massachusetts was a leader in healthcare innovation and can be one now. We provided a model for our nation, and can do that again. With the political stalemate in Washington, we can’t wait for the federal government to solve this for us. We need to fix it here and now. We could lead the way for the whole country. A single payer system is the only realistic way for society to pay for our healthcare and lower costs. I strongly urge you to pass the Medicare for All bills H.1267 and S.766 to really improve the lives of the people in our Commonwealth. Our health and well-being depends on solving this now.
Lawrence M. Pareles, MD, FACC