Today in a move that has stunned many in Washington, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has flouted the special interests and insurance industry’s army of lobbyists, by introducing a bill which would implement the nation’s first single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system.
Aided by way of a companion bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott, these single payer proposals seek to take what supporters argue is the only logical step on the way to fixing the nation’s broken health care system.
Citing the shameful reality that the United States is the only developed, First World nation to lack such a program, Senator Sanders seeks to remedy the gross and often lethal inequality in our health care system by declaring, once and for all, that access to medical treatment is a right as opposed to a privilege.
The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its people.
Opponents, especially those within the corporate health care lobbies and right wing ideological interest groups, often attempt to blast single payer as being a death sentence for American health care, spouting empty lines about our system being the envy of the world, as well as it being a vital and central part to our economy and GDP.
However, as Senator Sanders explains, under this new system, drug makers, medical device and equipment suppliers and even insurance companies themselves, will still have the opportunity to rake in massive profits serving now as peripheral support industries, as opposed to being the dominant core players in American health care, as they have been over the course of our long decline.
Data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows in no uncertain terms that despite American spending on health care outpacing the rest of the world, the models within which such revenues are spent are actually resulting in poorer overall health care.
With the deep rooted inequality of the for-profit American health care system being mirrored only by its massive inefficiency, it is impossible not to acknowledge that a country which spends on average twice that of it’s single-payer neighbors, should not suffer such high rates of infant mortality, hospital readmission for easily treated conditions or declining average life expediencies, if such a system actually worked.
So why then would our government, with all the data available to it, the immediate and obvious severity involved and the clear and obvious need for such reform, be so hesitant to take such a logical and beneficial step to ensure all Americans have an undeniable right to medical care? The answer, as it is with most things, is money.
With pro-corporate conservative politicians in Congress and their K-Street allies fighting tooth and nail to maintain the highly profitable and inherently broken for-profit status-quo, the risk that politicians run by challenging the notions that corporate profit equals prosperity is great. With even the smallest Congressional campaigns costing upwards of a million dollars to run, the amounts of money the profiteers are willing to spend to block threats to their medical oligarchy know almost no bounds.
Yet as the state of Vermont, known generally for its boldly progressive policy agendas, prepares to launch its own statewide single-payer health care system in 2017, it should be no surprise that the true maverick of the Senate who hails from the Green Mountain State, is now leading the charge to ensure that no Americans are left without coverage.
If you want to help Senator Sanders and Representative McDermott pressure their House and Senate colleagues to do the right and sensible thing, you can find contact information for your elected representatives here.
Watch as Senator Sanders, along with Congressman McDermott and leaders of Organized Labor announce the introduction of an American Single Payer Health Care Bill: