- Elizabeth Warren
With the current president and the rest of his party intent on destroying Obamacare, healthcare is the perfect issue to display the differences between the opposition and the status quo. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of Republicans supported "a policy of Medicare for All". This gives Democrats the perfect vehicle to display why voters should allow them to take control of the White House from a president whose justice department has joined a lawsuit that, if successful, would remove protections from the most vulnerable, including those with pre-existing conditions. Instead, the moderate Democrats in the field of presidential candidates have attacked the quickest path to universal health-care coverage. Even worse, they have done so by framing it as a way to "get rid " of the protections provided by Obamacare.
Joe Biden made it clear that the passage of Obamacare was "a big fu&!ng deal." It did, in fact, add nearly 20 million people to the health-insurance rolls. However, the coverage it provided was far from universal as about 27.3 million people (8.6 percent of the population) continued to lack health-insurance coverage in 2016. By relying on private health insurance, Obamacare ensured that marketing costs, corporate profits and CEO salaries would continue to contribute to inflated health-care costs. Additionally, the continued reliance on employer-sponsored insurance decreased our competitiveness against corporations based in countries providing government-based healthcare and left employees vulnerable to losing their coverage when they lose or leave their jobs.
The Republican assault on Obamacare has also shown the limitations of incremental improvements to the health-care system. While Trump and his cronies were unsuccessful in their attempts to repeal Obama's biggest legislative achievement and replace it with absolutely nothing at all, they did enough damage so that "the number of uninsured increased by more than half a million in 2017." This was the first time since the implementation of Obamacare that the number of people who were unprotected by health insurance increased. Any system implemented to fix what Trump has broken needs to be done in a way that provides protection from future Republican administrations.
One advantage to a Medicare-for-All system is that every American will have skin in the game. With the exception of the very rich, they will depend on the system working and will have a reason to hold politicians accountable for ensuring that it is not weakened. The universality of coverage is what keeps Social Security protected. Republicans and moderate Democrats score points attacking Democratic Socialism, but Social Security is a type of benefit that would be covered by that banner.
Alternately, Biden and other corporate Democrats propose giving the uninsured the option of participating in Medicare, a solution that they rejected during the original passage of Obamacare. The problem with that solution is that it can be too easily reversed in the future; Democrats giveth and Republicans taketh away. With only the most vulnerable benefiting, politicians will find it too easy to bargain away the programs. To ensure the needed protections, those with political power must be convinced that it is in their best interests to do so.
Hillary Clinton did not lose to Trump because she was less qualified; rather she lost because she represented the status quo in a system where the working class has fallen behind. Instead of learning from this experience and promoting a health-care program that would eliminate health-care insecurity, the moderate Democrats use Clinton's failed strategy of fear-mongering to recycle the Republican line that Medicare for All would outlaw private health insurance instead of focusing on the fact that it would make it obsolete. After all, who needs an overpriced, ineffective health-care system where coverage can be taken away at will when we can have one that "eliminates premiums, deductibles, and co-payments"?
Even a study funded by the ultra-right-wing Koch brothers agreed that Medicare For All "would reduce national spending on health care while expanding and improving coverage" and that "the average person would save more on health care than they would spend on increased taxes. " How is that not a winning strategy in 2020?
- Joe Biden
Carl Petersen is a parent, advocate for students with special education needs, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.