Once again it appears the Republican Party is missing the boat, the reality, and the first step of preparation for the future. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan was the discussion of breakfast last Sunday morning by my friends, my wife, and myself. After we placed our orders with the waitress, I broached the subject and the first words that jumped out of a friend’s mouth was “Socialized medicine.”
Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 or older or have a severe disability, no matter your income. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage if you have a very low income. The two terms refer to two different entities, but for most people are thought of as one in the same.
Wikipedia: “Socialized medicine is a term used to describe and discuss systems of universal health care: medical and hospital care for all at a nominal cost by means of government regulation of health care and subsidies derived from taxation. Because of historically negative associations with socialism in American culture, the term is sometimes used pejoratively in American political discourse. The term was first widely used in the United States by advocates of the American Medical Association in opposition to President Harry S. Truman’s 1947 health-care initiative.”
Donald Trump made the Affordable Care Act a target for his presidential campaign. Both candidate Trump and President Trump like to single out people or programs they denigrate and call names. President Trump rails against the branded “Obamacare” so much that even his supporters have at times thought there were two different programs involved in Medicare. One the dreaded Obamacare and the other the Affordable Care Act that has saved and served many people with health care coverage from health care disaster. For two of us at the Hawks Prairie booth it meant that we could close our Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 free chronic health care clinic at Pacific Lutheran University when the health care law was enacted. We ran the clinic because of the high number of working poor who had no insurance coverage. We didn’t close the clinic until we made sure that everyone we had served or were under served were covered.
So far repeal has failed because congressmen and senators face would face opposition from large numbers of constituents who fear abandonment through hobbled bill or a completely dismantlement bill. By cutting monies for the program, millions of people would be adversely affected. And many of those millions are or could be voters. So, President Trump has painted himself into a corner by demanding repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act at the same time he was also promised to cut taxes. By appearances so far, it seems as if President Trump wants to cut taxes for the rich and punish the poor with a reduction or removal of health care.
Make no mistake, the Affordable Care Act costs money. Costs could be reduced by eliminating the need to work with many different insurance companies and compiling their versions of care and restrictions on people and state coverage. A Single Payer System could reduce costs. Sander’s “Medicare for all” would cover all citizens. Opposition has been steady since Truman first offered his initiative. Drug companies keep raising prices here in the U.S. One payer could certainly take the weight off our boomer retirees.
There is nothing new here. We would not be re-inventing the wheel. Actually, we would be nearly the last major country in the world to offer it. Countries with universal health care include Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Who doesn’t have universal health care? Most of South America, India, China. and almost all of Africa.
So, without universal health the U.S. and mostly third world countries are stuck in the past. The problem with this position is that within a very short time we must face the future.
Many banking institutions and high-tech industries predict layoffs of up to 40%. At the same time the growing AI (artificial intelligence) and robots community has predicted a cut in workers. Business as we know it is about to change. Unless we prepare for it, we will be swept away by it. Health care is just the first step.
We already have 3-D printers that can create a house in one day. 3-D printers can print food even: We can grow our own meat. Soon we’ll be using DNA to store data instead of hard drives. Science is moving forward. The future means many fewer workers. Education and ability will have little to do with it. Desire to work and a good work ethic will have no effect. What will we use for money? How and where will we live? These are the problems that we need to face now. Imagine millions and millions of people out of work with no health care.
Proponents of affordable health care and affordable housing have been seeking support for decades. Here in America, after ignoring health care coverage for seventy years, our elected officials are still fighting it. Our leaders should be leading us somewhere and not into the past. It’s time they listen, plan, and act soon. Please, share this article with your friends and relatives in other states.