The Democrat is undaunted about the prospects of going toe-to-toe with Speaker Ryan — and providing healthcare to all Americans.
Cathy Myers literally lives across the street from Rep. Paul Ryan in Janesville, Wisconsin, so she knows exactly who she’s up against. Not to mention having witnessed his many attempts to wrest healthcare coverage away from millions of Americans just to give the wealthy a tax break.
Healthcare is one of the primary reasons Myers decided to run for Ryan’s seat in Congress, which is up for grabs in 2018. She believes healthcare is a right — and that the healthcare plans supported by Ryan aren’t actually healthcare plans, she says.
Why suggest a healthcare plan that isn’t one? The healthcare plan Paul Ryan proposed is actually a tax break for the very top, and the number of people that were going to be cut out of healthcare was staggering.
The whole point of healthcare is to figure out how to cover people, not how to exclude people.
With every Republican proposal threatening to deprive millions of Americans of healthcare coverage, now may be the best possible time for Democrats to lobby hard for what would actually help the most Americans: single-payer healthcare.
According to Physicians for a National Health Program, single-payer health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” means a single public or quasi-public agency organizes healthcare financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. Under a single-payer system, all residents of the U.S. would be covered for medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.
“I believe healthcare is a right, and the way to provide healthcare for everyone is through single-payer,” Myers says. “I believe we need to take the profit out of healthcare. A profit incentive means certain decisions are made that aren’t in the best interests of the patient.”
With Republicans dead set on dismantling anything having to do with the ACA — and, it seems, Medicaid along with it — you might think single-payer healthcare would be a non-starter. But Myers disagrees.
I think people are more aware of how influential having healthcare and health insurance is to them. That’s what the ACA did: It helped people understand just how important it is and how much it benefits them, by being able to see their doctor early, do preventive care. Now that Republicans are talking about taking it away, people are more willing to listen to the idea of single-payer. I think it is possible now.
The latest push by the Senate and the Trump Administration to repeal Obamacare, whether or not they can replace it, proves the fight over healthcare is far from over. But as Americans continue making their voices — and stories — heard, Republicans face an increasingly uphill battle.
People like Myers are driving the opposition to Republican plans. She has been telling the citizens of Wisconsin — and their elected officials — the stories of people like Jack, a nine-year-old boy with a rare genetic disorder who will literally die without treatment. Jack, whose pre-existing condition would make him uninsurable under any of the Republican plans or subject him to coverage caps that make treatment unaffordable, went with her a couple of weeks ago to deliver a petition bearing 1,600 signatures to Senator Ron Johnson’s office, asking him to reject the initial Senate plan.
“To have this nine-year-old boy be aware that there are people out there playing politics with his life — you realize how hard it is on people like Jack,” Myers says. “His fate is really in their hands, which is another reason to keep the pressure up like crazy on Senator Johnson and Speaker Ryan.”
Healthcare is a top-three issue for Myers, along with education and the environment, in part because she knows access to affordable healthcare is not just good for people’s health — it’s good for the economy and particularly the middle class, she explains.
When people can’t take care of themselves because the cost of healthcare is so prohibitive, then they get sick and people who are sick are not productive. That prevents small businesses and companies from being productive. I also think people who might be inclined to start their own small business are less likely if they’re concerned about being able to afford and access healthcare. So I think that by working on healthcare, we can help the middle class.
Although Myers says the ACA was a step in the right direction, in terms of getting more people insured, she firmly believes single-payer is the way to go.
“The ACA led to a lot of good things, including people getting healthcare for the first time, but it left a little too much up to the states and allowed states to deny people healthcare that way,” Myers says. “I also think it failed in regard to negotiating prices. We are the biggest client. We should be able to go in and set our price. We pay the most and get the least. If every industrialized country in the world can do single-payer, we can too.”
Myers — who was elected to the Janesville School Board in 2013 and 2016 and is actively involved in her community — is ready to do more to serve the public. She realizes that going up against an incumbent like Paul Ryan won’t be easy, but Myers has a crucial strength: She wants to represent average Americans who won’t be helped by any of Speaker Ryan’s policies.
“If every one of the 23 million people that Paul Ryan wants to kick off healthcare gave me $1, I would win,” Myers says. “The money issue is there, but I think if I just tell people who I am, what I stand for and what I care about, people will respond to that.”
To learn more about Cathy Myers and her platform, visit her website.
[Photos courtesy of Cathy Myers for Congress.]