This is why we can’t have nice things: Why single-payer must be the next step

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says Democrats in 2018 and 2020 should campaign on a national single-payer healthcare plan. “President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she added. Warren said Democrats should do more than just defend ObamaCare, pressing her party to push more progressive healthcare solutions. She said Democrats would do better in elections if they campaigned on a progressive platform.

If there’s one thing which the controversy over the American Health Care Act has revealed, it’s that Republicans are OK with people dying if that’s what it takes to provide tax breaks to the top 400 wealthiest Americans. Poor and sick people dying is but a small price to pay if it contributes to tax breaks for the 1%. Talking about Making America Great Again….

That may seem harsh, but given what’s known about AHCA, it’s not an inaccurate assessment. The question now is how to move forward with something more humane and inclusive.

For my money, American health care will be remain a substandard mess until and unless single-payer becomes a reality. Until people are elevated above profits, insurance companies and others in the health care industry will continue elevating their bottom line over the health and well-being of Americans.

It’s a pretty simple equation, really. What’s the purpose of a health care system? If you said, “Taking care of people in need of health care,” you should go to the head of the class. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the answer is “To maximize profits and return on investment.” People and their health become and remain a secondary concern, which means that some will die because of financial considerations.

The truth that there are those who will crow about “American Exceptionalism” even as some Americans die for an inability to pay for necessary treatment is unconscionable. No nation which places profits over people can credibly claim any degree of humanity. Looking after the health and well-being of its citizens should be a government’s Job One. Any nation capable of conducting two full-scale wars halfway around the world can provide every citizen with access to a basic level of health care.

Consider this for a moment: The largest and most powerful economy in the world tolerates a system which shuts some of its citizens out of its health care system. How is that even possible? How can that be considered tolerable or humane? Have we lost our humanity to such a degree that we no longer believe we have a responsibility to look out for one another?

If Norway, Sweden, France, England, Canada, and [insert name of enlightened, humane country here] can do it, why can’t we? How can America, arguably still the most powerful country in the world, not guarantee access to at least a basic level of health care to every citizen?

Sen. Warren is right. Democrats should campaign on a single-payer system. They should advocate for putting people over profits, and they should push for diminishing the influence and control of insurance companies and other stakeholders.

Until and unless we put people first, America can and will have no claim to being a humane, compassionate nation.

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