Left-leaning Democrats look to Medicare for All platform to energize elections campaigns
The Democratic party is moving closer to embracing a radical policy change to the existing medical system in America, moving closer to a model already in practice in much of the developed world.
As the mid-term elections creep ever closer, the Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, are increasingly calling for “Medicare for All” as a potential fix for the crumbling capitalistic American healthcare system. Former President Barack Obama even hailed the prominence of “Medicare for All” among the nation’s Democratic candidates as one of its “good new ideas.”
But Single payer healthcare is not necessarily a new idea, as this was essentially the system pushed by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1994. Ultimately, that plan was scrapped after meeting fierce resistance in Congress. But now many are realizing that the continually rising costs of health care in America necessitate a different approach than simply having enough money to throw at doctors and treatment when you get sick.
According to Business Insider, the leading example of Medicare for All is the plan floated by Senator Bernie Sanders. It eliminates the private system of insurance and Medicaid and establishes a national program which would be funded by a new tax for employers and households, raising existing taxes and using current federal funds which are currently going towards the Affordable Health Care Act.
Of course, Trump and the GOP are trying to downplay the idea of single-payer as too radical, as evidenced by an advertisement by Texas Congressional Representative John Culberson. Culberson claimed his opponent “supports a complete government takeover of health care” despite the fact that his opponent, Lizzie Fletcher, doesn’t even support single-payer. Instead, she would rather reform the Affordable Health Care Act and opt for “universal health-care”
According to a 2016 research report entitled “How a universal health system reduces inequalities: lessons from England”, by switching to a nationalized system of health care, England has substantially reduced inequality in primary care access and priority, but has only made a modest reduction in healthcare outcome inequalities. This suggests that single payer is a good start towards helping people who would otherwise be barred from the healthcare system to have a fighting chance. In America, those most at risk for facing inequality in the healthcare system are Black and poor people.
It remains to be seen whether the more moderate Democrats will embrace Medicare for All in their platforms. Perhaps they are cautious that their bases may not trust a plan which has to this point only been embraced and pushed in districts which are largely urban. But if the Democrats want to win the country back, they may want to reconsider a strategy of political convenience, and instead target substantial improvements for all of their constituents, particularly Black people.