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A path to healing

I never imagined that in 2019 in the United States of America, a fourteen year-old child would have to worry about health insurance. Yet with the way things are now, my husband and I recently found ourselves having to reassure our son that he would always get the care he needs.

But given the state of our deeply flawed health care system, I’m not sure if that’s a promise I can keep – and it breaks my heart as a mother.

Last year, our son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Over the course of many medical visits, he’s developed an understanding that there’s a price tag associated with the medicine and equipment helping to keep him alive. And he also realizes that without access to a reasonable health care plan, staying alive could easily bankrupt a family.

We’re lucky we have great insurance through my husband’s employer so we can get the life-saving insulin and care our son requires – but that may not always be the case.

It’s a very real possibility that when my son gets older he could take a job that doesn’t offer insurance, and his medical condition would make his monthly premiums on the health exchanges prohibitively expensive. How will he afford the insulin he needs to survive?

The harsh reality is that for too many these aren’t hypothetical questions. In July, a young man from Minnesota died from rationing his insulin because of the skyrocketing costs of this critical medicine. Sadly, he wasn’t the only one.

Our country desperately needs to fix our broken health care system and lower the cost of prescription drugs. We’ve known about these problems for years, but our country has been too divided, too entrenched in partisan in-fighting, to do anything about it.

The only way we will be able to finally fix our health care system, or tackle any of our greatest challenges, is if we come together as a nation around our shared values – and Pete Buttigieg understands that. His plan, Medicare For All Who Want It, guarantees universal health coverage but without kicking millions off of their existing plans.

Pete’s plan preserves the fundamental American value of choice, and that is something everyone can rally around – regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

But Pete isn’t just offering choice, his plan creates a public option that offers high-quality, affordable care. At the same time, he would make needed system-wide reforms like ending surprise billing, limiting out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare, and making it easier to get care for mental health and addiction by enforcing mental health parity.

And Pete doesn’t stop there. His prescription drug plan caps out of pocket expenses to $250 a month for prescription drugs and brings down the cost of medicine – like life-saving insulin – by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

And his rural health plan would help end disparities in rural and urban health by expanding telehealth, increasing payments to maternal care providers to keep rural obstetric wards open, and increasing provider options so rural veterans can get the care they deserve. With five of New Hampshire’s 17 rural hospitals at risk of closure, Pete’s plan is essential for the health and well-being of our state.

Pete is proposing the most ambitious and significant reforms to health care in decades – and something an overwhelming majority of Americans have been calling for. At a time when our country feels more divided than ever, these are the bold solutions we need that not only make a real difference in our lives, but also unify our country.

This is the most important election in our lifetime – and for the sake of my children’s future, we can’t afford to get it wrong.

Michelle St. John represents Hollis in the New Hampshire State House of Representatives, where she sits on the Committee on Children and Family Law.