My name is Mckayla Wilkes, and I’m running for Congress in Maryland’s 5th District (Prince George, Calvert, St. Mary’s, Charles, and Anne Arundel counties) in the June 2nd Democratic Primary because as a lifelong resident of Southern Maryland, I’m tired of Congress putting corporate interests over the needs of my community.
Over the past three months, the COVID-19 virus has turned our lives upside down. The virus has impacted all parts of our daily routines: from how we teach our kids, how we eat, how we shop, and perhaps most importantly, how we work. Across the country, it appears that the unemployment rate is at least 14.7%, amounting to over 38 million people losing their jobs since mid-March. In one week of early May, over 51,000 Marylanders applied for unemployment. Our country hasn’t faced an unemployment crisis like this since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, it appears that Maryland has not risen to the challenge. It has been too hard for Marylanders to apply for unemployment. Once people have applied, payments have been irregular at best. Overall, the system has been something just short of a disaster.
On top of struggling to keep food on the table, out of work Marylanders also now have to struggle with an American healthcare system that priorities the profits of health insurance companies over the health of regular people. One of the most infuriating aspects of the American healthcare system is that health insurance is tied to a person’s job. That means that nearly every Marylander that has tried to file for unemployment has also lost their health insurance. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Every country around the world has been affected by the COVID crisis, yet the United States is the only developed country that is dealing with both a public health crisis and an insurance crisis. As PolitiFact points out, the main difference between our country and nearly every industrialized nation in the world is that “citizens there are not at risk of losing their health insurance if they lose their job.”
How can we address this distinctly American problem? Enact Medicare For All. Under the Medicare For All plan I’ve endorsed, the federal government, not individual employers will provide Marylanders with health insurance. It’ll mean the end of premiums, deductibles, and copays that keep poor and working-class Americans out of the healthcare system until it’s too late. And it’ll mean that never again will anyone be left to die simply because they can’t afford care. If Marylanders had Medicare For All they could focus on keeping their families safe and healthy rather than worrying about if their next illness will leave them bankrupt.
Creating Medicare For All will not be easy. It will require every Congressional Democrat to fight against the corporate health insurance companies. Unfortunately, Rep. Steny Hoyer is a vocal opponent of Medicare for All. Despite representing a deep blue district that is suffering from the worst clinical care statistics in the state, it looks like Hoyer is more comfortable catering to the wants of the pharmaceutical companies than the needs of his constituents. Over the past decade, he has happily collected over a million dollars in campaign contributions from health insurance and drug companies. In 2018, drug companies gave him over $128,000. It’s sad to say that it looks like these legal bribes have paid off because Hoyer represents their interests not regular Marylanders.
However, I have never taken a single dime of corporate PAC money. I am not in the pocket of the health insurance companies. I am unapologetically for Medicare For All. The COVID Crisis has just laid bare what so many of us knew: the American health insurance system is fundamentally broken and Medicare For All is the medicine it needs to heal it.