FARMINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jared Golden shared his support of universal health care for all citizens during a town hall meeting Tuesday at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

It was his first town hall since being elected in November, he said.

“It is my strong belief that the only way to get a strong health care system in place is to have universal coverage for every American citizen,” Golden, D-Maine, said to the nearly 60 people in attendance.

Selectman Thomas Saviello of Wilton, right, facilitates a town hall meeting Tuesday hosted by U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, standing at left, at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. (Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear)

He said three things were necessary for an efficient health care system.

“Efficient systems use universal coverage of some kind,” he said. “Primary care has to be widely available, which is especially difficult in rural areas like Franklin County. Third, there has to be a streamlined billing and payment system.

“The United States ranks first among industrialized countries worldwide in health care expenditures. We rank somewhere around 30th in system efficiency.”

The Lewiston resident said during door-to-door campaigning in Rumford, the top reason people told him they were unable to retire is because they had to wait until they were 65 to be eligible for Medicare.

“I like the idea of opening up Medicare for people to be able to buy into at age 50,” he said.

Golden said he supports allowing residents in northern border states to purchase less-expensive prescription drugs from Canada.

“We need to give people better options when it comes to the astronomical cost of prescriptions,” he said.

Golden recently introduced H.R. 1188, which is known as the Flat Prices Act. The bill would shorten monopoly periods for new prescription drugs that are subject to sudden price hikes, he said.

Dawn Caron, a registered nurse at Eastern Maine Medical Center and Maine State Nurses Association member said, “Access to affordable health care is essential, not only to families but for the strength of the economy. Those with means are able to access the coverage they need. Those without, are more likely to postpone treatment.”

“The Maine State Nurses Association is united in the belief that health care must be a right for everyone,” Caron said.

The number one cause of bankruptcy is due to out-of-pocket healthcare costs, she added.

“It is beyond my imagination that this country is incapable of producing health care for every citizen,” Golden said.

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