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Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan discussed at gathering in West Toledo

The Blade - 2/21/2020

Feb. 21--Dr. Johnathon Ross pitched Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan at a public forum Thursday in West Toledo.

The Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center physician and University of Toledo Medical Center instructor presented a survey of the Democratic presidential candidate's single-payer health care plan as "the only way to bring down costs, ensure everyone is covered, and improve medical practice."

Titled "Bernie's Medicare for All and the Impostors," the forum took place at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library's Sanger branch, 3030 Central Ave. About 100 people attended.

"If we are a moral people, we'll consider a health care system that we consider fair not only for ourselves but [also] for our friends, neighbors, and our loved ones," Dr. Ross said. "It has to be available to everyone. All means all. And it has to have high quality of care, and it has to be affordable. And the only thing that we can do to have it is [through] an improved, expanded Medicare for all."

Toledo political activist Dennis Slotnick, a retired Oregon City Schools science teacher who also spoke, talked about the difference between the Sanders-proposed Senate Bill 1129 and versions of "Medicare For All" that other Democratic candidates are campaigning on.

"If you use the words 'Medicare for All,' as a [presidential] candidate, you may not be talking about the single-payer expanded and improved Medicare for All," Mr. Slotnick said. "They will call it 'Medicare for All,' but it really means 'Medicare for some,' ... as in 'you can buy in if you want.'

"In effect, the only comprehensive coverage to all ... with no co-pays, no deductibles, and no premiums is Bernie's plan. All this is replaced by a tax, which is half of what we pay now."

The audience hung on every word.

"It's been helpful so far. ... I've been getting a lot of information," Sue Lonsway of Sylvania Township said, adding that she came to the forum because her adult daughter has a pre-existing condition -- familial cancer -- and has recently come off of her parents' insurance.

"I am worried, because if they -- the Trump Administration -- exclude the pre-existing condition [from coverage], my daughter would not be able to afford [treatment]."

There isn't a Democratic candidate who hasn't expressed his or her views on health care.

According to former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign website, he plans "to protect and build on" the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have voiced support for expanding Obamacare to include a public option.

Other candidates talked about health care during the October presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio, where Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren advocated Medicare for All health insurance.

"Medicare for All is the gold standard," Ms. Warren said during the debate. "It's the way we get health care coverage for every single American. ... We can pay for this. ... Costs are going to go up for the wealthy. They're going to go up for big corporations. They will not go up for middle-class families, and I will not sign a bill into law if it raises their costs.".

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said during the October debate that his plan would be Medicare for all those who want it, preserving private insurance as part of the system.

That is not an option under the concept as outlined by Mr. Sanders.

The Thursday event was sponsored by Our Revolution in Northwest Ohio, chaired by Mr. Slotnick.

The nonprofit bills itself as focusing on "progressive issues of Medicare For All, progressive living wage with a $15 per hour minimum, revitalizing democracy, racial and social justice, and planet stewardship."

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(c)2020 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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