File - Richard Andrade

State Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Glendale.

Our health care system may not be perfect, but over the years we have made great strides to provide more Americans with the coverage they need and connect them to the quality care and services they deserve. Passage of the Affordable Care Act has been critical to this evolution of health care in America, and Congress should continue strengthening and supporting the law by expanding upon the aspects that work well while examining parts that don’t.

What federal lawmakers do not need to do, however, is experiment with massively expensive, government-run health care systems like the public option, Medicare for All, or the latest proposal out of Washington, D.C. Medicare X. Call it what you will, these kinds of government-controlled health care systems could hit Arizona families with higher taxes while limiting choice and patient access to care. 

Medicare X is little more than the public option with a new name and, as with previous public option proposals, it’s probably going to come with a jaw-dropping price tag—likely in the hundreds of billions of dollars. What will that mean for the economy, jobs, and American workers and families? Almost certainly slowed growth, billions in new taxes and lost wages, and unnecessary financial pressures on our already fragile health care system. 

I have heard firsthand from my constituents and the communities I represent about the tremendous economic hardships Arizonans are facing right now due to the one-two punch of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. Now is not the time to go around playing with our health care system and expecting hard-working families to pick up the tab. 

That is particularly true given the detrimental impact a public option system could have on America’s health care landscape. Hospitals here in Arizona and across the country have been hammered by the pandemic, and according recent studies, the public option could make their financial woes even worse. 

We should be doing everything we can to strengthen and support our national health care infrastructure, not undermine it by imposing new economic hardships on already at-risk hospitals and providers. That means federal lawmakers should work together to pass policies that address the number one issue most Americans have with their health care: increasing costs. Unfortunately, not only does the public option fail to do that, but it could undermine access and the very hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities our communities rely on.

Moreover, attempting to address America’s healthcare concerns by imposing a public option system is not what most Americans want to see from their elected officials. In fact, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds broad support among the American public for the current health care system. 

Health care is one of the most important rights we as Americans have, and elected officials at every level of government—from municipal to federal—have a responsibility to ensure access to affordable, high-quality, comprehensive care for everyone who needs it. Congress should do this by working together to strengthen and improve upon the ACA—not attempting to create a new, expensive health care system that could increase taxes on hard-working families and weaken our health care community. 

State Representative Richard Andrade is a Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing Arizona District 29.