Medicare for All is seriously being discussed by Americans and it’s about time.
For decades, thanks to propaganda and scare campaigns from the for-profit health insurance industry, right-wing and neoliberal organizations, and the mainstream media that enables them, the idea of a single-payer health care system in America was viewed as off limits and “radical.” That’s no longer the case and it’s long overdue.
Senator Bernie Sanders surely deserves credit for bringing the discussion of a single-payer health care system to the national stage and gaining the support of the general populace. With this bill in the Senate (S.1804) and its 16 co-sponsors, and Representative John Conyers’ companion legislation (HR676) proposed in the House, boasting 118 co-sponsors, Medicare for All has increasing support within the Democratic establishment and progressive movement alike. Representative Conyers, Senator Sanders, and former Representative Dennis Kucinich consistently raised the bar by demanding that Congress always put the needs of the people first. Above all, the fact that this conversation is now in the realm of public discussion and being heralded is due to decades of work by activists at the grassroots level.
Medicare is an established program with wide support. The current proposals for Medicare for All in Congress build on the success and strength of the existing Medicare program. Notions that Congressional support for Medicare for All is “starting from scratch” are simply wrong. Furthermore, it’s what we need. It’s less costly and improves the quality of health care. The for-profit health insurance industry has taken advantage of Americans for far too long and has caused more than enough damage.
Every person, every man, woman, and child is entitled to quality health care as a human right. It’s abhorrent that we expect Americans to go without care or go bankrupt if they cannot afford to pay for the care they need. Even insurance doesn’t serve as a safety net in many cases due to high deductibles and insurance costs. As much as 80 percent of people who go bankrupt due to a medical emergency have insurance.
It’s no secret that Medicare for All, or any variation of single-payer legislation, is unlikely to pass with our current president and Congress. President Trump has already said he would veto Senator Sanders’ bill. That doesn’t mean, though, that this isn’t something to rally and unite the electorate around. In fact, Medicare for All may be the best policy with which to achieve this goal. Aiming high sets the standards for negotiations and increases the likelihood of policies that benefit the people and not special interests.
For single-payer legislation to be passed and become the law of the land, it will require support from a broad coalition, including some of those whom we may not trust or may not always agree with. But their support should be welcome, albeit with a watchful eye, if the goal is to see those policies for which we fight so hard become law and reality.
A single-payer health care system is the goal, and we’re closer than we have been in a very long time to seeing that become a reality.