As I watch the debate over health care coverage rage in Washington in the early months of the Donald Trump Dark Age in America, I’m struck by the fact that everyone on both sides of the political aisle is completely ignoring the elephant in the room. That neglected elephant sitting idly by flopping its trunk is the option that neither Democrats nor Republicans are talking about–Single Payer Healthcare For All Americans of Medicare For All. Democrats argue for a tinkering-around-the-edges improvement of Obamacare, not repeal. Moderate Republicans argue for repeal and replace simultaneously, while others of a more diabolical stripe on the Far Right argue for full repeal first and a “replacement” down the road. Nowhere is there any discussion of jettisoning the middle man private insurance part of the health care equation. Why? I’d argue the obvious, that politicians on both sides of the aisle are beholden to both the private insurance and Big Pharma lobbies. Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare are not remotely interested in low cost coverage for Americans, they’re interested in enhancing their corporate bottom line. President Obama put some restrictions on how these profit machines operated and now the GOP is desperately trying to roll back those restrictions as quickly as possible. Right wing extremist organizations like the Club For Growth, along with the GOP House of Representatives’ misnamed Freedom Caucus, are trying to get the federal government completely out of healthcare. Their wet dream is for themselves and their families to have their own quality health insurance while letting the unwashed masses fend for themselves at the mercy of their states policies. And didn’t Rand Paul say fairly recently that those with huge health care bills should lean on their church charity? It was his Marie Antoinette-inspired “let them eat cake” solution.
Industry lobbyists do pour into Washington like rats into a sewer to bribe as many politicians as possible while justice-seeking saints like Senator Bernie Sanders advocate for Single Payer healthcare to remove corporate profit motive from the equation. Of course we know which side is winning and it’s not the American people at large. Since 99% of politicians in Washington are on the take, they don’t broach Single Payer at all, wrongfully claiming socialized medicine doesn’t work. Forget the overwhelming evidence that comes out of industrialized countries that it works and works well. Even conservative politicians in the United Kingdom are rightly proud of their own National Health Service. And if Americans were educated as to how well taken care of Norwegians, Swedes, the French, and the Germans are served by their health care systems, they’d be up in arms demanding we acquire true universal health care. This is where the Right Wing propaganda wing of Amerika protests with vehement cries about how everything must be horrific by definition under socialism, especially health care.
As I listened this morning to wholesome-looking but diabolical Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan try to convince me that the GOP American Health “Die Early” Care Act would be an improvement over Obamacare, I wanted to jump through the screen like the menacing girl Samara in “The Ring” and choke the lying life out of him. It also reminded me of that episode of the Twilight Zone decades ago where an alien species came down to earth and claimed they wanted to help humankind. The aliens brought a book with them entitled “To Serve Man,” which earth language experts suspiciously attempted to decode, only to discover that it wasn’t a book about philanthropy, but was instead a cookbook. Cut to Paul Ryan and his bought-off ilk trying to sell us their own version of what I’ll call the “The To Serve Man GOP Healthcare Act,” which will radically drive up costs to average Americans and reduce coverage, all while giving wealthy people significant tax breaks. Of course GOP leaders are relying on the predictability of Americans in swallowing their bitter pill while interpreting its manna from heaven. Tens of thousands of Americans will die for lack of coverage if the GOP isn’t stopped; meanwhile gutless Democrats who’ve been partially bought off won’t even bring up Single Payer unless their name is Bernie Sanders or Howard Dean.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had he lived to serve out his 4th term as president, would have done his best to enact true universal healthcare through what he called a “Second Bill of Rights.” But alas, he died before he got to fulfill his dream of extending the New Deal to provide all Americans with universal coverage. As a result we’re left to watch a debate between politicians on the Right and the Center, with neither side remotely interested in looking at that neglected elephant.