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Bernie's the Man: His Town Hall Meeting on Single Payer Health Care

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Tonight, Bernie Sanders held our nation's first-ever D.C. town meeting on single payer health care. But he didn't do it on national television or on cable. Instead, the meeting had to be held online. It was sponsored jointly by the news outlets, The Young Turks (TYT), Now This, and Attention.

Such sponsorship was necessary because the mainstream media (MSM) largely sponsored by Big Pharma, have no interest in an issue so vital to the American people. Network and cable are more focused on Russia-Gate and President Trump's incoherent tweets. Predictably then, the MSM will continue to repeat Big Pharma's tone-deaf talking points about single payer health care (see below).

All of this means that Bernie Sanders is yet again ahead of his competitors on the communications curve just as he was in 2016 on the campaign-funding curve. Then he established himself as the most popular politician in America despite spurning contributions from large corporate donors. Similarly, although holding his healthcare meeting online, the ever-creative Mr. Sanders maximized tonight's audience. According to TYT's Cenk Uygur, in order for Bernie to capture an audience of size comparable to the one he reached tonight, he would have to appear on CNN more than a hundred times.

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In any case, the meeting was a model of efficient organization, relevance, and clarity. It featured three panels of three persons each, and had them discussing our nation's healthcare crisis, the cost of single payer programs, and the success of such programs in Canada, Norway, and France. The message was quite simple:

  • 36,000 Americans needlessly die each year, because they have no healthcare. (Imagine the response if that many were killed by terrorists each year.)
  • Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
  • But even if that right isn't recognized as such, our present system is undeniably over-priced, wasteful, inefficient, and insane.
  • It actually has uninformed bureaucrats dictating instructions to highly-trained healthcare providers
  • Who waste untold hours arguing with insurance companies and filling out forms.
  • Inexplicably, it excludes dental and optometrist expenses as though they were luxuries.
  • Moreover, our system rewards callous employers who refuse to provide healthcare for their workers by giving them an edge over competitors with conscience who do.
  • The system even has taxpayers subsidizing the wealthiest family in America, the Waltons, by providing Medicaid to their underpaid workers.
  • Single payer systems everywhere in the industrial world provide better care at half our cost.
  • Everywhere they are so wildly popular that it would be politically suicidal for any politician to suggest their replacement with the U.S. system.
  • Single payer is popular because it requires no premiums, co-pays, deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Compared to such savings, any tax increase to fund the system here would be miniscule.
  • A single payer system even exists in our own country; it is called Medicare.
  • After Social Security, Medicare is the most popular government program in the nation's history.
  • Yet, our elected representatives refuse even to acknowledge single payer's success anywhere,
  • Because they are paid off by insurance and pharmaceutical companies to do so.
  • Medicare can be easily universalized by simply lowering the age for eligibility from 65 to the day of a child's birth.
  • Despite the disinformation of opponents, doing so would not cost more. It would cost far less! Remember, we already pay twice as much for inferior healthcare as those countries with single payer.

In a TYT follow-up to Bernie's program, one right wing viewer ignored its entire content. Instead, he tweeted those typical Big Pharma talking points I mentioned above. The tweeter summarized the town hall meeting in three points: (1) everything is free; (2) the rich will pay for it, (3) I don't know how much it costs.

As the TYT commentator observed: "There's at least one thing Single Payer can't do. It can't cure stupid."

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program.Mike blogs (more...)
 

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