On March 4, the Seattle City Council voted in favor of Resolution 31867, which supports the passage of the Medicare for All Act of 2019. According to a statement from City Councilmember M. Lorena González, this makes Seattle the first city to support the landmark bill, which “would be the first single-payer healthcare bill to receive a hearing in Congress.”
The Medicare for All Act of 2019 was introduced in late February by Washington state’s own Rep. Pramila Jayapal. González, who serves as the chair of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee, stated, “Rep. Jayapal is a leader on this issue, and she’s also my representative and my constituent. I am proud to support our Congresswoman’s bill and I’m excited to offer Seattleites a chance to support Rep. Jayapal’s bill, which now has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.”
All Americans would have access to comprehensive healthcare under the bill, which expands on our current Medicare program. It’s a necessary step in a system where people are forced to ration their medication due to exorbitant costs. Even a majority of Republicans want Medicare-for-all.
“Our bill will cover everyone. Not just those who are fortunate enough to have employer-sponsored insurance. Not just children. Not just seniors. Not just those who are healthy. Everyone. Because healthcare is a human right,” Jayapal noted.
Considering the widening income gap in the Pacific Northwest (thanks in no small part to an influx of tech companies), Medicare-for-all would be a godsend for Seattleites. In the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area, the average one-percenter’s income is 24.7 times greater than the average income of the remaining populace, according to a 2018 report from the Economic Policy Institute.
We know in the City of Seattle and in King County there are significant health disparities regarding people’s access to insurance and affordable healthcare. The cost of healthcare impacts every single one of our constituents; and the U.S. has among the worst health outcomes in the developed world despite spending roughly 19 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare. A single-payer system would improve health outcomes while lowering the cost of medical care and insurance.
Let’s hope Seattle is the first of many cities to throw its weight behind Jayapal’s bill.