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Director of Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care discusses its benefits

By Staff | Jun 15, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Lynn Yellott, of Shepherdstown, left, listens to Mark Dudzic, director of the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care, explain the benefits of single-payer health care, while Stephanie Nicodemus, of Shepherdstown, right, looks on.

The Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care’s Director, Mark Dudzic, spoke during a free workshop about single-payer health care at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church on June 7.

Members of the Eastern Panhandle Single-Payer Action Network and Eastern Panhandle West Virginia Democratic Socialists of America attended the workshop, where they learned about the pros and cons of the current Medicare system and how to organize and mobilize fellow Americans to actively support Senator Bernie Sanders’ health care legislation, S.1804.

“We’re not trying to change peoples’ minds,” Dudzic said. “We’re trying to change the real world.”

He estimates the Democratic Socialists of America party has quadrupled in size since Sanders’ 2016 presidential race.

“Two people to recently change peoples’ perceptions of health care are Bernie Sanders – Bernie made people believe that change was possible – and Donald Trump – when people began to see the consequences of the ACA repeal, their outrage became apparent,” Dudzic said. “I would argue there’s been a real paradigm shift in the American people. Now, it’s hard for us to believe where we were 10 years ago.”

The ACA refers to the controversial Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” which mandates all Americans purchase health insurance, expands Medicaid and regulates the health insurance market.

Dudzic said a lot of Americans sympathize with the Democratic Socialists’ goals, but are afraid changes to the current health care system might result in worse health care, because the single-payer health care system is unproven in the United States.

“In Colorado, they developed a cool calculator app that would calculate the difference between current and future health care costs, if single-payer health care was enacted,” Dudzic said. “They found that everyone would pay less overall with a single-payer healthcare system.”

The cost of health insurance is increasing more percentage-wise than Americans’ salaries are increasing, according to Dudzic.

“Health care costs a lot, even with squeezing out the waste and inefficiency in our current system,” Dudzic said. “Most people don’t know how bad their health care insurance is until they have to use it.”

Dudzic said the current insurance documentation system is flawed, because documentation takes up time health care practitioners could be spending with their patients.

Emunah Herzog, who works as a nurse with Hospice of the Panhandle, agrees with this sentiment.

“I’m spending 75 percent more of my time documenting than in actual care with Medicare, which needs to be changed,” said Herzog, who is from Charles Town.

Shepherdstown resident Dr. Chess Yellott, who practices in Jefferson County, believes the current system needs to be changed.

“This horribly complicated system denies care to a lot of people,” Yellott said. “In most places in the world, it’s just not a question whether or not someone can get health care.”