My name is Chris Izzo, and I am a Frederick resident. I have become an ardent supporter of Medicare for All — specifically legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Pramila Jayapal from Washington and Debbie Dingell from Michigan. On May 30, I spoke at Our Revolution’s health care rally outside Gaithersburg High School while Rep. David Trone was inside.
My journey to outspoken advocate for universal single-payer health care began in 2000 after a heart attack. A “lucky” one, I have had good coverage throughout my life. By accident, I received the actual bill for one day’s care. It was $25,000. This experience brought to my attention the ease in which a medical incident can bankrupt a family.
Four years later, my father suffered a severe stroke. He lost the use of his right arm and was restricted to a wheelchair. To make his house accessible to him, my mom and I needed to pay to construct two ramps. In addition, we added railings to the first-level shower.
Due to my mom’s age, we had to retain the services of two aides to help my father in and out of bed and his wheelchair during waking hours. Again, my family must be considered “lucky.” Unlike many others, we were not bankrupted by the over $400,000 in out-of-pocket expenses related to my father’s stroke before he died five years later.
Nevertheless, in addition to the obvious emotional pain and suffering, dad’s stroke proved to be a significant economic hardship. His entire 401(k) was depleted. My mother has also had to tap into other investments.
Now my wife and I are retired. We live on pensions and Social Security, but are also depleting our 401(k)s. We previously purchased long-term care insurance. But a recent increase in monthly premiums meant that we would have to pay more than we do each month in mortgage payments. We cannot afford this expense without risking our entire nest egg. We rejected the rate hike, which means that the amount available to us for care is capped. Obviously, we are now terrified that one of us may require long-term care that exceeds the cap.
The Jayapal/Dingell bill would protect my family from the serious economic risks, up to and including potential ruin, that our for-profit health care system continues to impose on us and hundreds of millions of other Americans. This legislation will generate better health outcomes at a lower per capita cost. Nobody will be denied care and nobody will go bankrupt as a result of a health care emergency. It is time for David Trone to stand up for his constituents and co-sponsor Medicare for All.