Despite LinkedIn’s algorithm to the contrary, today is the seventh anniversary of this blog. It was seven years ago that I began to write about Medical Travel and Workers’ Comp.
And although it has morphed into a blog about health care issues, and more recently, about Medicare for All, it is an accomplishment that it has lasted this long.
As I am sure happens to many a blogger or writer, one runs out of things to say, so they fall back on re-posting what others have written to keep themselves in the game. Such has been my experience of late.
This is no accident. Having been diagnosed with ESRD, and attending to the protocols involved with receiving treatment and dealing with it on a daily basis, I have had to slow down the pace of writing, concentrated on other issues, or just took a break from it by not working on it period.
However, with the Democratic primary campaign heading towards its next phase, I thought it would be a good idea to review the positions of each of the major candidates now debating regarding health care for Americans.
Since then, I have concentrated on posts that single out aspects of some of the candidates positions on providing health care to more people, but each and every article posted has shown that those positions will not lead to the outcome that will provide universal health care to all Americans.
So, here are the plans for health care of each of the candidates currently still debating:
Since August, five of the last eight posts I wrote addressed some aspect of why those advocating a public option or keeping private insurance are wrong, and why we have not had universal health care.
The New York Times, as part of a series of articles published in their Sunday magazine about the year 1619, included an article as to why universal health care has been rejected in the US.
The article, Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care? The answer has everything to do with Race, traces the opposition to universal health care to after the Civil War, when the South was devastated, and the Freedmen’s Bureau addressed the smallpox virus that was spreading across the South. It was argued then by white legislators that it would breed dependence.
But, other articles posted since August, have criticized calls for a public option, such as the article, Public Option A Bad Policy, which was re-posted from The Nation earlier this month.
A second article, Private Insurance Failure to Lead to Medicare for All, re-printed from The New York Times two weeks ago, was written by a former CEO of a health insurance company, and currently professor of health care finance at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
His observations about where private insurance is leading us should be read by those who are supporting candidates who advocate keeping private insurance.
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) president Adam Gaffney, in Boston Review, put it simply: “It’s the financing, stupid.”
Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, writing in The Guardian four days ago, stated that Medicare for All would cut taxes for most Americans, and that not only would universal healthcare reduce taxes for most people, it would also lead to the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation for most workers.
This is something that Elizabeth Warren has not been able to address in the debates, instead talking about how it will lower costs for people. She has not been wrong in doing so, because if the average family pays $5,000 in taxes and has medical costs twice that, moving to a single payer system will save them money, even if their taxes were to increase by a small percentage. Their medical bills would fall far below the $10,000 level. However, Warren will be releasing a plan to pay for it.
Saez and Zucman, in a chapter in their book, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, called private insurance a poll tax.
According to Saez and Zucman,
“…private insurance premiums are akin to a huge private tax. Although most workers get insurance through their employers – and thus employers nominally foot the bill – the premiums are a labor cost as much as payroll taxes are. Just like payroll taxes, premiums are ultimately borne by employees. The only difference is they are even more regressive than payroll taxes, because the premiums are unrelated to earnings. They are equal to a fixed amount per employee (and only depend on age and family coverage), just like a poll tax. The secretary literally pays the same dollar amount as an executive.”
Listening to the candidates other than Sanders and Warren, they would rather keep the status quo so that stakeholders can profit from the dysfunction in the system than address the problem of health care head-on.
It is as if we said we wanted to go to the Moon, but opted to go part of the way, saying we will get there someday, but not now, as it is too expensive, people like looking at the Moon without knowing there are men up there and spacecraft parts, and that we shouldn’t mess with it until we clean up down here.
It is better to advocate going all the way, then not at all. If you fail, then you know you must do it again until you get what you want. Thus, was the case with passing the ACA. It did not happen overnight.
This video, from a president who knew how to speak in complete and intelligible sentences, illustrated what it took to get Medicare and Medicaid passed.
Just like President Kennedy’s call to go to the Moon in the 1960s, so too did he call for universal health care as far back as 1962 when he made this speech in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
We cannot afford to do anything less, because the stakes are that important. Medicare for All must be the one and only goal. Anything else is a half-measure destined to fail.