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Single-Payer Health Care Should Not Be A Religion

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Single-Payer Health Care Should Not Be A Religion


Reprinted with permission from Creators.

The latest Republican push to essentially kill the Affordable Care Act through lawmaking is dead. Setting a time bomb to blow up current Obamacare benefits in 2027 would have been sneaky, sneaky.

Where were Democrats in all this? They were mostly on the sidelines letting Graham-Cassidy head for oblivion on its own outrageous terms. That was the politically wise place to be.

Where was Bernie Sanders? He was throwing Graham-Cassidy a last lifeline by staging a debate with its sponsors. That framed the issue as a false choice between the cruel Republican legislation and single-payer health care.

Republicans jumped at the opportunity, portraying their bill as an alternative to “single-payer socialism.” Fortunately, enough people saw the choice properly as between saving Obamacare and killing it.

Democrats need to come up with their own health care policy. That means shoring up Obamacare as they make incremental changes. The Sanders vision poses large problems that cannot be ignored with a dismissive wave of the Bernie hand.

That said, his ideas deserve consideration. He appears to be advocating a more nationalized version of Canada’s single-payer system, with added benefits. Canada provides decent health care at a relatively low cost. But though its system is good, it’s not the best.

The Commonwealth Fund ranked the health care systems in Britain, Australia and the Netherlands as the top three for overall performance. Of the 11 rich countries studied, the U.S. was last, but Canada finished at an unimpressive ninth place.

Among the winners, only Britain’s system is truly socialized. The doctors work for the government.

Australia covers everyone under its government insurance plan but allows other payers. About half the population buys private insurance to access care outside the public system.

The multi-payer system in the Netherlands is most like Obamacare, though better regulated. Every adult must obtain coverage or pay a fine, and there are subsidies for those with low incomes.

As Bernie says, health care should be the right of every American. But health care is just as much a right for citizens using the multi-payer systems of France, Germany and the Netherlands as it is for Canadians under single-payer.

Sanders markets his plan as “Medicare for all,” a much easier sell than “single-payer.” Medicare is pretty good at setting fair rates of payment. And despite much grumbling, providers generally do not lose money serving Medicare patients. If that were the case, hospitals would not be lining Florida’s highways with billboards beckoning retirees to come on in.

Democrats should be asking themselves whether the public is in any mood to be sent back into the Mixmaster of another complete health care overhaul. That’s what Sanders’ four-year plan would do.

For starters, it would wipe out employer-sponsored health coverage as a benefit. Though this insurance is expensive, the great majority of workers on company plans say they are happy with the outcomes.

Sanders’ bill barely addresses financing. One estimate has his plan costing $32 trillion over 10 years.

“I don’t understand where the money is coming from,” writes David Anderson, a health care analyst at Duke University. The few financing details to emerge include tax hikes of a politically explosive nature.

Many Democrats support the more modest step of letting Americans 55 or older enroll in Medicare. That makes sense. People would sign up voluntarily. And it would not require a total renovation of American health care, stripped to the studs.

Smart Democrats, like Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, describe the Sanders plan as “aspirational.” That’s a nod of respect for single-payer but short of worship.

There is nothing sacred about single-payer. It’s just another approach to universal coverage.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.


Froma Harrop

Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers. Media Matters ranks her column 20th nationally in total readership and 14th in large newspaper concentration. Harrop has been a guest on PBS, MSNBC, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a frequent voice on NPR and talk radio stations in every time zone as well.

A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary in 2004 and again in 2011, Harrop was also a Scripps Howard Award finalist for commentary in 2010. She has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has given her five awards.

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  1. dbtheonly September 28, 2017

    Well put Ms. Harrop,

    Would disagree only with, “Fortunately, enough people saw the choice properly as between saving Obamacare and killing it.”

    People had nothing to do with it. It was Senators. Only Senators. Did anyone notice the changes make in the original system to funnel more money to Alaska and Maine? There was significant monetary advantage for both Murkowski and Collins to vote for the plan.

    It scares me to see, or not see, how many seem not to notice how close the Republicans came this time.

    I do not sleep well when the safety of the country rests in the hands of Rand Paul.

    1. BeverleyDLarson September 28, 2017

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    2. JosephineJMcGee September 28, 2017

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    3. dpaano September 28, 2017

      I don’t sleep well with the country resting in the hands of the current administration!!!

      1. dbtheonly September 28, 2017

        Sleep better.

        They’ve bollixed up everything they’ve tried to do so far. Trump’s not going to learn.

  2. bobnstuff September 28, 2017

    The healthcare system needs to be fixed. We focus on how to buy and pay for insurance when the elephant in the room is the cost of healthcare. We are arguing about what color to pant the house that’s falling down. Here are some problem that are not being addressed but should be.

    The cost of training doctors and their debt load coming out of med school.

    The cost of malpractice insurance.

    The cost of collecting the payments from hundreds of different sources each with their own paperwork.

    The cost of drugs.

    The way hospitals charge for things like the $15 aspirin.

    There are other things that need addressing but you get the idea. Yes the way be buy healthcare coverage needs to be fixed but until the cost of the care is addressed it’s not going to solve the problem.

  3. harleyblueswoman September 28, 2017

    the “public option” should never have been eliminated from the original ACA bill….

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 28, 2017

    I see the GOP as hopelessly mired in the tar pit of their antiquated and warped view of their humanity, of Religion, and alarmingly ignorant of the purpose of Existence.

    To illustrate what is this “purpose of humanity’s existence”, we only need to ponder and reflect on a particular passage from a Tablet translated from the original Arabic, and which translates via Shoghi Effendi’s methodology for translations from Persian and Arabic to English as follows:

    “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Say: O friends! Drink your fill from this crystal stream that floweth through the heavenly grace of Him Who is the Lord of Names. Let others partake of its waters in My name, that the leaders of men in every land may fully recognize the purpose for which the Eternal Truth hath been revealed, and the reason for which they themselves have been created.”

    This should at least give us a firmer understanding of our purpose of existence, and what is expected of humanity by God.

    Now, consider the rabid desire of the GOP to destroy all means of securing affordable healthcare in light of the insight of Baha’u’llah—an insight which former generations of humanity were not yet prepared to be told.

    There appears to be a preternatural madness which has gripped the GOP collectively by the groin, has bored a hole through their brains and pumped in a vile ideology bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the purpose as outlined with such clarity and eloquence by Baha’u’llah, driving them to an insane course of action which benefits the wealthy while decimating the nation with the razor-like sharpness of a scythe cutting a field of wheat, intent on crippling everyone else not fortunate to be well-off financially.

    All for the sake of some “Satan”-inspired ideology call Conservatism.


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