Dr. Gamm to make case for single payer health care

NEW ULM – A New Ulm doctor will talk about the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and why single-payer healthcare is a good solution at 7 p.m. Sunday at the United Church of Christ (UCC).

The co-chairwoman of the Minnesota Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a national organization of more than 18,000 doctors, medical students and health professionals who support single payer national health insurance, Dr. Laurel Gamm provides healthcare to the homeless at Westside Community Health Services, a large community health clinic system, in downtown St. Paul. The facility provides around-the-clock food, emergency shelter, mental health services, healthcare and many other services for homeless and other needy people.

Gamm said one of the good things about the ACA is it will allow more needy people to qualify for Medical Assistance (MA). “But the complexity of the ACA is a detriment,” Gamm said. “Having coverage doesn’t guarantee health care access, because many (needy) people won’t be able to afford it…Many people find out too late that certain things that are not covered by health insurance. Even with the ACA, we really won’t be where we need to be.”

Gamm said single-payer healthcare is a more efficient, innovative way to go and could become reality in the next few years. “Legislation for a simpler, single-payer system has been heard in the past,” Gamm said. “It could happen as soon as 2017, when the ACA allows states to do more innovative health care system reform. It would be a good solution for Minnesota. We need the legislature to pass those goals in 2015 and 2016 in order to use the ACA waiver (for health care reform). For the first time in a long time, this is in our sights. It’s starting to get legs.”

Gamm said she expects some “spirited discussion” at her presentation Sunday night at the UCC.

Trained in family medicine, Gamm worked as a family medicine primary care doctor and more recently in the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Emergency Room. She’s been involved in the Minnesota single-payer movement since the early 1990s.

Founded in 2007, PNHP-Minnesota is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a movement to create an innovative healthcare system that will cover all Minnesotans while saving the state billions in annual health costs. A resolution supporting single-payer healthcare can be found at www.thedatabank.com/dpg/555/personal2petition.asp?formid=Petition

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

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