It doesn’t matter what we eventually come to name America’s universal health care system. Call it Toby for all I care. What matters is when we finally give birth to it that it be—like the health care systems in every other nation of the developed world—u.n.i.v.e.r.s.a.l. Anything less than that is not merely disappointing, but disgraceful.
For seven years we’ve been fighting to save the splintered, deeply flawed system we already have because the Obama health care reforms created a system in which more people are covered than before and many who were previously covered have better coverage now. There are many problems, but the biggest is that millions still live without coverage of any kind. Even modest tweaking of some of the ACA’s flaws is out of the question as long as we are hamstrung by the political domination of the current controllers of all branches of the federal government. But the obstacles should not stop progressives from trying anyway—at both the federal and state levels.
We should make certain in this process that whatever gradual improvements we propose now 1) will actually be improvements, and 2) not create additional impediments to reaching genuine universality.
If it were up to me, I’d opt for something close to the French system with elements of Cuba’s. You can clearly see why I am not asked to suggest policy strategy for the Democratic Party. Democratic socialism + authoritarian socialism all in one package? Ye gods, where is the duct tape? So, nothing overtly français or cubana. But whatever system makeover is eventually proposed, it ought to be a dealbreaker if it doesn’t do what those two foreign systems do: cover everybody.
This past week, reports Deidre Fulton at CommonDreams, we’ve seen some reasons to be optimistic. Not only did repeal-and-replace turn into a high-speed collision with reality for the Republicans, but it showed in the outpouring of citizen objections that there is room to move the health care debate in a “leftward” direction:
One bright spot was Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) announcement over the weekend that he will soon introduce a Medicare-for-All bill in the U.S. Senate. Other promising signals included:
1. To much fanfare, a California lawmaker on Thursday unveiled details about Senate Bill 562, or the "Healthy California Act," a single-payer proposal to create universal health coverage (including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care) for every California resident.
"With Republicans' failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Californians really get what is at stake with their healthcare," said Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, who is co-sponsoring the bill along with state Sen. Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). "We have the chance to make universal healthcare a reality now. It's time to talk about how we get to healthcare for all that covers more and costs less." [...]
2. The Huffington Post reports that "[t]he push to implement a 'Medicare-for-All'-type system in New York state just took a significant step forward Wednesday." [...]
3. Progressive luminary Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) voiced support for single payer on two separate occasions in the last week, first at a town hall meeting last Friday and again when pressed by a reporter on Monday. Warren [...] told MassLive that "single-payer sure ought to be at the top of the list" if the country starts from scratch on healthcare reform following this month's American Healthcare Act (AHCA) implosion. [...]
4. Warren isn't the only lawmaker whose support for universal coverage is more forthcoming these days.
Vox reported this week:
During the last two years of Barack Obama's presidency, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) could only find 62 other House Democrats willing to co-sponsor his single-payer healthcare proposal—which would expand Medicare to cover every American.
But just two months into the new Congress, Conyers's team has already signed up 78 co-sponsors for the exact same single-payer bill. More are expected to come on board in the next two weeks. At this point in the last Congress, only 48 Democratic House members had signed on to the bill. [...]
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
“The Philippines War was as unnecessary as it is unjust—a wanton, wicked, and abominable war … and what is the answer? ‘No useless parley! More soldiers! More guns! More blood! More devastation! Kill, kill, kill! And when we have killed enough, so that further resistance is stopped, then we shall see.’ Translated from smooth phrase into plain English, this is the program … In the vocabulary of our imperialists, ‘order’ means above all submission to their will. Any other kind of order, be it ever so peaceful and safe, must be suppressed by a bloody hand. This ‘order’ is the kind that has been demanded by the despot since the world had history.”
~Carl Schurz, The Politics of Imperialism, speech at the founding convention of the Anti-Imperialist League in Chicago, Oct. 17, 1899
TWEET OF THE DAY
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2003—Finding a way out:
When the Democrats take the White House in 2004, they will face a daunting task -- a government in DEEP red, starved of tax revenues by the irresponsible borrow and spend Republicans. They will face a hostile word, uniting in opposition to US interests, regardless of their legitimacy. They will need to deal with joblessness, a double-dip recession, and corporate scandals.
But most daunting of all, they will need a solution to the Iraq mess.
For purposes of this thought experiment lets assume the most probably outcome -- a relatively quick takeover of Baghdad and Basra, 2-6 weeks from now. A restive population, suicide attacks against our forces, a massive army of occupation, unrest in the Arab street, and skyrocketing costs to hold and rebuild Iraq.
So what's the solution? I have given this some thought, and am in the process of formulating my "solution" (in other words, the best of a series of bad options). But I want to hear what you guys have to say.
So pretend you are a presidential candidate. It is November of this year. Iowa is a few short months away and Iraq is the issue dominating the news. You are asked: "What's your plan for Iraq?"
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