Opinion: Access to Affordable Healthcare is a Right, Not a Privilege

Like many people in the City of West Hollywood, I read the morning news each day, stunned by the headlines out of Washington D.C. I shake my head in disbelief when I hear the President talk about healthcare.

Here are my questions to the President and his party:

— Why wouldn’t you want all Americans to have access to healthcare?
— Don’t you want the best for the people you’re representing?
— Don’t you want children to be born healthy and seniors to be well enough to age in place?
— Don’t you want to do not only “the right thing,” but also what’s most cost-efficient?

We’ve recently seen Congress take steps to roll back healthcare through its budget reconciliation process and one of the first executive actions taken by the President during his first days in office served to codify his intent to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Mayor Lauren Meister

Yet, if you talk with public health experts, physicians, and civic leaders, a wide majority of them will tell you that we all win when everyone has access to healthcare. Preventive healthcare and regular checkups mean that our healthcare system curbs the costs of more expensive acute services in emergency rooms. When people do not have access to healthcare, they wait longer to access care, they end up sicker in ER settings, and all of us ultimately pay more down the line.

More than 20 million Americans have obtained heath care coverage since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented. A 2016 Gallup-Heathway survey shows that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to just 11.4 million, and that more and more people continue to enroll.

The President and those who seek to repeal the ACA seem to be putting politics ahead of people’s lives. If the ACA is repealed, it will have devastating consequences. Millions of people across the nation, and many people in our community, will be jeopardized.

As Mayor of the City of West Hollywood, I am to taking a stand on healthcare for everyone — for those who are now covered under the ACA, for those who still need to access medical care, and for the millions of people who will be hurt if the ACA were to be dismantled without a viable replacement.

If the ACA is not working for everyone, let’s work together to reform the ACA — let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The ACA is providing medical coverage to millions of Americans and we all need to do our very best to strengthen it, not dismantle it.

Personal leadership demands bold action and standing for what we believe in. West Hollywood is a progressive city that never turns its back on people in-need. We should all stand up, raise our voices, and demand that our leaders treat healthcare as a right, not a privilege. We won’t stand idly by as efforts are made to take coverage away from our neighbors and communities — we will demand that our leaders think before they act, and that they remember to protect the people they were elected to represent – the 99%.

West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister is joining more than 250 mayors across the nation on Feb. 22  for the Mayors’ Day of Action on Healthcare to raise awareness about the importance of defending access to healthcare and the urgency of resisting efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  1. I have worked for decades at jobs that offer health insurance. Then I was terminated for something that was not my fault. I have payed taxes for decades and when I needed help to continue being healthy I did use the health market. It is not a privelage but a need. I was unemployed for three months with no income and had to settle for a job that offered no benefits. Im not lazy and never have been. If you lack empathy for others I do expect you to turn your backs on people when they are in need. I have cared for veterans, the elderly, people with special needs and mental health. Most of them were abandoned by their family so it is no surprise that most of you are cold and selfish. This is the problem with the world today. Those who say it is a privilage are prime examples of why there is a lack of love and unity. You all do not know everyone’s life or story.

  2. Mayor Meister, I have not heard anything that would make me think President Trump would answer NO to your 4 questions. Can’t imagine why you would other than because you are a liberal. You have all lost touch with reality. My “affordable” monthly premium is $812.00! Cheapest individual HMO. That’s why it must go.

    1. Great point, Jeff. Imagine being forced (by Obama and his I suppose well-intentioned plan) to pay $10K per year for something you most likely will never even use, but just on the chance you might. Frankly, I could not afford it, and so paid the penalty – which Mayor Meister did not offer to help me with. I don’t consider it very American to be forced to pay money for something I might not ever use. I’d rather take my chances and take care of my own health care needs. Go Trump!

  3. Run for City Council, Larry – and win this time! We need you on there instead of Heilman and that disgraceful John Duran.

  4. IF you really believe what you say then take up the idea I proposed a couple years back about partnering with Cedars Sinai, or Blue Shield on a city-wide plan that is purchased in bulk the same way a corporation buys healthcare for its employees. Citizens can ‘buy in’ to a plan that has the uninsured residents of the city. Healthcare is a right, but doctors also have a right to get paid for their work. Sadly it seems your playing on the fears of people and your stand today is only for political convenience.

  5. Thumbs up J.V. Now let’s start an intelligent discussion about how we get from here to there….self sufficient and responsible for our own general health and well being. I’ll bet it would vastly improve the mental health of many not imbibing of medical cocktails.

  6. @ J.V. I’m with you man. Why should the government have to pay to keep someone alive? I also think we could save billions — maybe trillions — if we dismantled the armed forces and the police. We all should own our own guns and not expect the government to pay to defend us. If we can pay for our own healthcare, then we we should pay for our own protection from shootings by buying guns and bullets. Thank God for Donald Trump!

    1. Good sarcasm, Earl, is when people can actually tell whether or not you’re being facetious. Hard to tell here. If you are, I’d just say that I don’t mind paying taxes for police and military because that’s not my personal responsibility and I can’t perform those supportive functions myself. But looking after my own heath – that I and all of us are perfectly capable of (usually) being the decisive factor in our own well-being. And if I can take care of myself so that I don’t incur major health care expenses, I certainly don’t want to pay thousands of dollars a year to support someone else’s poor lifestyle choices, or even their bad luck.

  7. Obama Care mandates that everyone carries coverage for abortions. How many in boys town need that coverage. Obama Care mandates coverage for prenatal care. How many in boys town need that coverage? Obama Care mandates coverage for children under 26 years. Only a rich sugar daddy needs that.

    Affordable healthcare should be available but said plan need not mandate coverage that the buyer does not need or want.

    And lets not forget about the little (big) part of Obama Care that the unions are opposed to. If one has excellent health insurance coverage provided thru ones employer that employee must pay a penalty for having better than mediocre healthcare insurance.

    1. To Sam Borelli – why is that? Why should “you all” pay if I end up in an emergency room? I’ll pay the bill myself. If someone else without insurance ends up there and doesn’t want to pay, then don’t treat them. If I wanted health insurance so badly, I’d get a job that offered it. But I don’t. I don’t want to be forced to spend $1,000 a month on something that I might not ever use. That’s wasting money. I live healthy, I am careful and cautious, and I haven’t been to a doctor (for anything serious) in 30 years. Health care is not a right, it is a responsibility…mine! And I’ll take the consequences (should there be any) for not having it. You don’t have to pay a dime.

  8. The responsibility of health care begins with the individual. Developing a healthy life style without being brainwashed into the medical industrial complex should be imperative for every individual yet few recognize that. There are opportunities for mindfulness that have existed for thousands of years yet few partake. Slowly the western health care mindset has been embracing these practices.

    On a regular basis the public learns that vast amounts of miracle drugs and methodologies are not what they were purported. Catastrophic health insurance is sensible and some insurers offer opportunities with so called “alternative practices”. It is up to the individual to get serious about the health of their own body and allow it to do the job for which it was designed. Learning about the way the body functions and/or falls out of balance requires a bit of study but is well worth the effort.

    Many other countries offer more intelligent health care opportunities yet the US remains addicted to the drug industry. Let’s come up with a better pro active plan.

  9. And just why is health care a “right”? I personally don’t have health insurance, and I don’t feel it’s my “right”. I don’t think society or the taxpayers owe it to me. If I wanted it that badly, I would pay to buy it. And I certainly don’t want to have to pay money (as ex-President Obama forced me) to pay for someone else to have it. There are existing government programs that meet basic health needs. I’m glad Obama is gone, and I’m glad his forced health insurance soon will be. If you want to pay for other people health care, Ms. Meister, be my guest.

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