The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 3, 2013

Groups push for universal health insurance

Say Obamacare a good first step, but more needed

MANKATO — Rather than focus on blunders in the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, groups in Mankato Sunday said Obamacare is a good first step but that health care for everyone from birth to death should be the goal.

“It’s a moral choice this country has to make, the moral choice that other countries have made,” said Paul Sobocinski, of the Land Stewardship Project, during a forum at Minnesota State University.

He and others, including Physicians for a National Health Program, are pushing for a single-payer system. Gary Eagen, a retired teacher from New Prague who helped organize Sunday’s event, said they envision a system just like Medicare, except for everyone.

“It would provide health care from birth to death. We’d pay for it with taxes out of our paycheck,” Eagen said.

“Imagine if you left a job and know you have health insurance wherever you go. And employers would like having health insurance off the table, not having to negotiate over it.”

But, he said, getting it will be a tough battle. “The health industry, insurance companies, have so much influence.”

Sobocinski said the LSP supported Obamacare — offered through MNSure in Minnesota — because of the farmers they work with.

“We worked on this because of what we saw with starting farmers.” He said farm couples either have to have one spouse leave the farm to get a job with health insurance coverage, pay high rates for insurance, or go without.

Megan Buckingham, of LSP, said despite the focus on glitches, Obamacare is not as complicated or frightening as some suggest. She said 80 percent of Americans, who have employer-sponsored insurance or are on Medicare, will see no changes at all.

“We’re not talking about some giant government takeover of health care. This will affect the chunk of people, like farmers, who pay high rates or go without (insurance).”

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