If Obamacare is Repealed, the Democrats Will Need to Finally Adopt a Medicare-For-All Platform
The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be a great compromise. Progressives were told that they had to give up nearly everything they wanted, even the public option, in order to pass something that the Republicans would be able to accept. And guess what? The Republicans hated it, anyway. Now that President Obama’s signature legislation is at risk of being largely undone by President Trump, it’s time for the Democrats to drop this failed appeasement strategy and start listening to the rapidly-growing progressive wing of their party.
While far from perfect, the ACA has done a lot of good for a lot of people. Americans like me with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers. The legislation also curtailed gender discrimination and other abusive industry practices. For all the ire directed toward Obamacare by Republicans, even they can’t deny the lives that have been saved by it in its fairly short history. If they are successful in their foolhardy efforts to repeal it, many innocent people will be harmed.
All that being said, progressives are quick to point out that the Affordable Care Act is woefully inadequate in many regards. As of the first quarter of 2017, over 10% of Americans still don’t have access to health care. These predominantly poor Americans are further burdened with a tax penalty, something that Mr. Obama had promised us he would not support throughout the 2008 campaign. The lack of a public option, which itself was supposed to be a compromise to progressives, represents another broken promise that most of us have not forgotten.
What we received in exchange for all these concessions was passage of a patchwork bubblegum solution that did nothing to address the underlying problems with our unabashedly for-profit healthcare system. The Democratic leadership spurned our concerns, declaring that an almost completely one-sided compromise was the only way to get the Republicans to accept it. Only problem is, they didn’t accept it. The GOP has been obsessed with dismantling Obamacare since its passage, not because its implementation of what was originally Mitt Romney’s plan amounted to Communism, but because of what has developed into what I can only describe as a pathological hatred toward our last president among the core of the Republican Party.
If you think about it, what this means is that Democrats could have pushed through a simpler and much more cost-effective Medicare-for-All bill and Republicans wouldn’t have been any more pissed-off than they are now because they’re already at maximum outrage. So if they’re going to hate anything we come up with, anyway, then why not at least fight for what we actually believe in? The only selling point for the centrist approach is its purported ability to garner support from Republicans. If they’re now just flipping us the bird no matter what we do, then we may as well aim for the stars and fight to overhaul this broken system. There’s no point in wasting our energy fighting to revive a failed compromise, should that be its fate.
With a Medicare-for-All approach, every American will have a basic right to receive the health care that they need. The United States will no longer be spending more for health care than every other country on the planet for an embarrassingly broken system that doesn’t even cover everyone. But we have to be willing to fight for this future. That won’t happen so long as Democrats are afraid to stand up to the entrenched special interests who don’t want to see anything muck-up this sweet deal they’ve got going for themselves.
President Obama’s signature legislation was disappointing in so many ways, but it also brought forth a number of long-overdue reforms that this country really needs. We should fight vigorously to preserve them. However, if and when the Republicans succeed in their oddly vindictive quest to destroy the former president’s crowning achievement, the Democrats will find themselves at a fork in the road. If they fight just to restore what essentially turned out to be a failed compromise, they won’t find much enthusiasm from progressives like me. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If they get behind Medicare-for-All, the Democrats will have an opportunity to tap into a huge groundswell of support that would otherwise not be available to them. Let’s hope they don’t squander it again.