This from Bernie Sanders, who stands out from most of his fellow U.S. senators like a St. Bernard in a pack of toy poodles:
The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to its people. Meanwhile, we spend about twice as much per capita on healthcare and, in a wide number of instances, our outcomes are not as good as others that spend far less. It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American healthcare system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all, single payer health coverage program.
The key word is “basic.” Sanders thinks most Americans are smart enough to understand the most important step toward reform is to eliminate the middleman; to provide an option that doesn’t involve for-profit private companies — Aetna and so on — that have made our healthcare system an international joke. He knows we don’t like this system, that it only thrives because insurance companies pay politicians big bucks to maintain the status quo.
That’s why Sanders just introduced a bill that would do for the nation what single-payer health insurance is doing for Sanders’ home state of Vermont — lowering costs while providing care for all who may need it.
A companion bill to Sanders’ was introduced in the House by Rep. Jim McDermott, a long-time advocate of health insurance reform who stands out from most of his House colleagues like a Great Dane in a pack of… I’d say rat terriers, but rat terriers have more courage than congresspeople.
If the new legislation were to miraculously come to fruition it would be a big improvement over Barack Obama’s health reform law, which provides coverage for 32 million more Americans but does not cover 23 million others. And the new law does nothing to bring down soaring healthcare costs.
Ironically, Republican corporatists scornfully refer to the reforms as Obamacare, as if they’re a radical departure from the old healthcare system instead of a watered-down version of reform that makes insurance companies richer than ever.
Which only goes to show that half-measures usually earn you nothing but contempt from legislators determined to never give an inch on issues crucial to the continued outlandish profits of the companies that own them.
One can only wonder what would have happened if Obama had fought for single-payer insurance — i.e., taken the issue to the American people in a series of appearances and speeches — or for the so-called public option, a government-funded alternative to the private insurance companies.
Instead, he caved to right-wing demands before demands were even made, possibly because of advice from dirtbags such as Rahm Emanuel, who called Dem advocates of the public option “fucking retarded.” Or because Obama himself simply wasn’t into significant healthcare reform, just as he wasn’t into ending bonus tax cuts for the rich, backing labor unions, creating jobs programs for the unemployed or taking steps to discourage outsourcing of what used to be American jobs.
OK, it’s all water under the bridge. But it’s good to know there are still a few public servants who fight the good fight instead of surrendering without firing a shot. And that’s enough cliches for one column. Go Bernie!