Wed, 16 November 2016
Time For the Real Left To Double Down on Single Payer Medicare For All
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon
The Affordable Care Act, which President elect Trump promises to repeal and replace with nobody knows what, was never all it was cracked up to be.
The promise to deliver affordable health care was a key campaign issue in 2007 and 2008. But while most Americans demanded a single payer system to replace the private insurance companies, and guarantee health care for everyone, the 44th president his corporate funded Democrats instead delivered Obamacare –- billions in tax dollars to insurance companies for policies with skimpy coverage and such high co-pays and deductibles that many families cannot afford to use their new health insurance. Worse still, Obamacare only provided these sketchy policies to about half the uninsured leaving the rest to the tender mercies of state governments which control Medicaid.
Ever since 2009 corporate Democrats have justified their treachery with claims that single payer Medicare For All was impossible to get through even the majority Democratic Congress of 2009 and 2010. Hillary Clinton also declared single payer dead on arrival should she be elected. But Hillary was not elected, and even though this is the fourth consecutive Republican dominated Congress, and Republican politicians hate Medicare For All just as much as their Democratic rivals, the popular mandate for single payer health care is very much alive.
A May 2016 Gallup Poll confirms that “...58% of U.S. adults favor the idea of replacing the law (Obamacare) with a federally funded healthcare system that provides insurance for all Americans.” The question for the left, however you read that term is what do we do about this? The answer has to be that we fight for what we know people want and need with all the means at our disposal. In the present era, the willingness to organize, to agitate, to educate, to demonstrate and to demand health care –- not health insurance, but health care for everybody as a human right is one of the markers by which we can tell actual flesh and blood leftists and their organizations from those who merely fake the funk until the next Democrat takes office. It’s worth noting that the Green Party’ candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka were the only ones in this election calling for single payer health care.
A 2009 study by the National Nurses Union reveals that adoption of Medicare For All would create 2.6 million new jobs, from doctors and nurses to a host of health care professionals and technicians. That’s as many jobs as were lost in the 2007-2009 recession. It would inject #75 billion per year into the US economy, including $100 billion in wages alone. President Trump won in part because he told people he’d “bring back the jobs.” But steel mill jobs are imaginary, fictitious. Health care jobs are real.
The tens or hundreds of thousands in streets each night justifiably protesting the ascension of a crotch grabbing racist con man to the White House would be well advised to not repeat the mistake of Occupy a few years ago. They and others who want to be relevant in this new era urgently need to put forth some concrete demands which if struggled for will make them opinion leaders, and if won will improve the lives of millions. Quality single payer health care NOW is one of those demands.
Trump’s threat to dismantle Obamacare is an invitation for us to reopen the struggle for health care as a human right. And this time we know we’re struggling against Republicans AND Democrats.
For Black Agenda Radio I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.