We are ready for single payer
By Lisa Newcomb
The Democrats don’t think you are ready for single-payer healthcare. Some have said a “public option” is the best we can do. Maybe it’s the best they can do. Maybe it’s the best their health-industry donors will allow them to do. We have other ideas.
Americans want single-payer healthcare. Poll after poll shows increasing support — even among Republican voters — for a government-run system that puts people over profits. The problem with the Democratic leadership is their donors put profits before people and want to keep it that way.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that 2016 health care spending for an average person in the United States will top $10,000. That’s 22 percent more than the next comparable country, Luxembourg. Unfortunately, however, our outrageous spending isn’t able to buy us better health or life expectancy. America has a higher rate of death that could be prevented by proper health care than other comparable countries, specifically France, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the U.K.
Spoiler alert: ALL of these countries also have a form of universal, government-run healthcare.
Americans are ready to live healthier, longer lives. They’re ready to use their GoFundMe accounts to fund their latest inventions or support their favorite charities instead of to pay for medical bills. They’re also able to see the financial sense in enacting a Medicare for All system.
Last month, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour that a single-payer system “probably is the best system, because it is a system — we are such a rich country. In a sense, we can afford it.”
We can afford it. Look at Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign platform. Under his plan, people would actually save money under a Medicare for All system because while taxes would increase, they would not increase as much as most people are currently paying for poor-quality health insurance.
Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University wrote in the New York Times last week that several arguments that claim single-payer healthcare will cost Americans more are simply relying on misguided numbers.
“Total costs are lower under single-payer systems for several reasons,” he wrote. “One is that administrative costs average only about 2 percent of total expenses under a single-payer program like Medicare, less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Single-payer systems also spend virtually nothing on competitive advertising, which can account for more than 15 percent of total expenses for private insurers.
“The most important source of cost savings under single-payer is that large government entities are able to negotiate much more favorable terms with service providers. In 2012, for example, the average cost of coronary bypass surgery was more than $73,000 in the United States but less than $23,000 in France.”
Sanders has recently said that short-term a public option is the next step for the American healthcare system, but he remains firm in his belief that a single-payer system is the answer to the United States’ health care mess.
But this isn’t about Bernie Sanders. It’s not about Warren Buffett or Elizabeth Warren, who also recently indicated she’s in favor of a Medicare for All system. Unfortunately, health care in this country has turned into a debate about money.
The Republican Better Care Reconciliation Act will kick more than 23 million people off health insurance. It cuts Medicaid programs and allows insurance companies to charge a person more if they lapse in coverage (a mandate, by any other name).
Democrats have offered no real alternatives. They continue to say that we should focus on “expanding” Obamacare, but they’ve yet to introduce any legislation to that effect. They’re too busy spending ridiculous sums of money on special elections without creating a solid message to back up the cash. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently let the world know via email and social media that the Democratic Party is unaware of its own failings. “I mean, have you seen the other guys?.”
Yes, we have. And we choose neither. We choose better. Millions of Americans are standing up against the BCRA, and even more are joining the fight for single-payer in the United States. Long-time single-payer advocate and executive director of California Nurses United RoseAnn DeMoro recently warned Democrats in California and throughout the country that if they get in the way of passing the single-payer bill in California, SB 562, they can expect the DemExit movement to become even stronger than it already is.
“If you dismiss progressive values and reinforce the dynamic status quo, don’t assume the activists in California or around this country are going to stay with the Democratic Party,” she said.
After Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-13) introduced a Medicare for All bill in the House in January, we started a petition calling for all Democrats to support and legislate for single-payer healthcare. So far, 98,936 people have signed on and helped bring the bill’s co-sponsors to 113 from 72 when the bill was first introduced.
When discussing the United States being one of the world’s leading economies, Buffett told Woodruff that America should stand for more than money.
“We will be the economic leader, and we should be the moral leader,” he said. “We should stand for more than the fact that we’re the wealthiest country.”
Sign the Medicare for All petition here.
Lisa Newcomb is a volunteer writer, editor and graphic designer for Justice Democrats. Find her at Lisa Newcomb.