Two years ago, Bernie Sanders introduced a “Medicare for All” bill that would move the U.S. toward a single-payer healthcare system. He didn’t get a single co-sponsor.Wednesday, the Vermont independent will introduce his latest version of the bill.
The Catherine Rampell commentary posted in the Free Press on Sunday September 17, 2017 on “Sanderscare” (“Sanderscare is all cheap politics and magic math”) had me nodding in agreement until half way through it justified not “starting from scratch” saying “we live in our patch-work world.”
As if something that works poorly for too many people, and that came together in a haphazard way makes it too hard for us to jump to a single-payer system.
Almost all major countries in the world have single payer, finding it better than ours. This is not “cheap politics,” but tenacious politics that Sanders has been doing for decades. He is seizing the moment in the political scene in which Congress has failed to do anything to improve the system, even threatening to make it worse for tens of millions.
Sanders is advocating for what Rampell acknowledged most people want. As for “magic math,” I have been despondent for years about Reagan’s voodoo economics, still with us under other names. Sanders has the better math.
As Rampell said, “This involves painful political choices.” And I have seen decades of painful. When we transition away from an ideology that insists on bringing everything to the market, including our health, basing it on the ability to pay, then yes, there will be pain since those who place people above ideology will face the outrage of those true believers that put money first. But think of the pain now for those who just don’t have the money.
Until the ACA (Obamacare) we really had “death panels” at insurance companies, who decided to deny life-saving operations due to pre-conditions. People died because of these companies trying to keep shareholders in the black. What about the pain of those who have costs so high that they end up homeless? Expensive health care is a major contributor to homelessness. Expensive health care is also a burden to businesses who want to do the right thing. Our health care expenses are a burden to our economy overall. Most businesses do welcome a single payer system that saves them money and this will.
Those “sharp tax hikes” Rampell mentions will come to replace the huge premiums and co-pays that we know too well, but we will pay out less than we do now. A lot less. I am afraid it is true that “the many stakeholders” who will take a hit in this will be insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.
It won’t be easy for pharma that we will end up paying half of what we now do for many prescription drugs. It won’t be easy for their CEOs of insurance companies who already have earned more than I ever will in my entire life but I get by. Shareholders like us may be inconvenienced somewhat. But for those who need health care, which is what this is really about – not moneycare, not marketcare – they will find relief and no longer see a system that can threaten and sometimes abandon them.
Michael Doran lives in Vergennes.
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