Seven years ago, the United States went through healthcare reform to solve the issues that we had with the previous system that was so expensive, people were dying from lack of healthcare. People were having their care rescinded from “preexisting conditions”. When it came to healthcare, America was a developing nation.
And in many ways it still is, as the Affordable Care Act is by no stretch of the imagination perfect. We spend $3 trillion dollars in health care annually, more than any other country, meaning if the healthcare system alone (if it was its own sovereign state) from the rest of the United States, it would be the 5th largest economy in the world. Approximately 31 million Americans are still uninsured. In healthcare ranking, the US is ranked 37th by the World Health Organization, up from 46th from before the ACA was implemented. The rate of premium price increase has reduced, something republicans refuse to acknowledge when talking about rising premiums. The ACA did a lot, but still has a long way to go to be a serious healthcare system. But this is as far as a lot of democrats want to go in terms of healthcare. The Republicans have nowhere to run, and want to have a completely anarcho-capitalistic market for healthcare.
The republicans in the Senate have been trying to “improve” for weeks on the House bill that would drop 23 million people from care while cutting 880 billion from medicaid over 10 years and allow states to opt out of certain protections of Obamacare.
Their response was to promise more cuts to medicaid, leave more protections at the mercy of the states, and give more tax cuts to the rich. When the CBO score comes out for this version, don’t be surprised if it throws more people off of care. And some republicans aren’t voting for it because “it doesn’t go far enough”.
Our issues extend far beyond Obamacare vs. Trumpcare, as with either, there are still massive flaws that need to be addressed immediately. The solution lies abroad, where all other modern nations have universal healthcare systems.
In countries that have a universal healthcare system, the number of uninsured is zero. All of their citizens have healthcare. They also pay less on healthcare and medicine, and their care is substantially better than in the US. In the US, 47,000 people a year die due to lack of healthcare. This number is also zero in other modern nations due to everyone having care.
Healthcare effectiveness of 190 countries taken in the 2000’s. The US is 37th while the majority of the countries above it are Universal Healthcare systems.
In these countries, if you get sick, you show them your identification, get your care, and go home. Why don’t we have this system? It’s a really interesting yet disappointing story.
The idea of an individual mandate came from Richard Nixon when he proposed it. Bob Dole, Republican nominee for President in 1996 and nominee for Vice President in 1976, supported the idea. In the 90’s, President Bill Clinton wanted to do healthcare reform as premiums were rising. Some democrats proposed the idea of medicare for all, so everyone could be covered. The republicans, however, had the individual mandate as their rebuttal, which is what Obamacare is based on. This is why Mitt Romney had implemented “Romneycare” in his state of Massachusetts that had an individual mandate and offered free care to residents making less than 150% of the federated poverty level and required employers with more than 10 full-time employees to provide healthcare insurance. The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, wrote papers in support of the individual mandate and politicians like Newt Gingrich and Chuck Grassley supported it. Today, it’s arguably their worst enemy. Maybe after Planned Parenthood.
There are many ideas by the republicans today to combat Obamacare. Perhaps a common thought is that deregulation of the market will drastically lower premiums and allow the poorest of us to afford the care they need. This is manifested in different plans, one being to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, creating bigger pools and allowing the premium price to lower. There is no evidence of this working, as Georgia, Maine, and Wyoming currently allow selling over state lines and not one insurer has taken advantage of this. Economists even speculate that if insurers do take advantage of all 50 states allowing this, they would be able to choose their regulators, a direct cause of the 2008 financial meltdown. Many other plans exist among the right, but almost all of them contradict each other. That is why republicans are having trouble right now trying to create a bill that, at the very least, can pass the House and the Senate, let alone not getting the scrutiny of the press about pesky things like how many people are going to be thrown off or how prices will skyrocket because that might hurt their image as the party for the little guy.
The majority of democrats in Congress are only fixated at opposing the republicans at healthcare. For them Obamacare is as good as healthcare is going to get in America and that’s that. Very few will even mention a public option and even fewer will advocate for a single-payer system. Corruption has a part to play with it, as insurance and pharmaceutical companies have donated millions to politicians in both parties in order to keep the system working for them and not us. A perfect example is Hillary Clinton, who, during her time as a Senator from New York, supported a bill that would instate a single-payer system (which started a situation on the campaign trail when she asked where her opponent Bernie Sanders was when she supported it, who was literally right behind her in press talks about the bill), only went as far as a public option on the 2016 campaign trail. Politicians today like Representative John Conyers, who has proposed a medicare for all bill every term since elected (H.B.676), and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have said that the democrats need to fight Trumpcare with single-payer and will be proposing a bill to the Senate for it soon. But it will fail, as many democrats don’t and won’t support the bill even though it’s in the party’s platform, and republicans wouldn’t in their wildest dreams support a government takeover of healthcare (unless they get horrifically desperate for a win and will take anything that will grant them that, which that time might come sooner than expected).
But democrats need a policy they can call their own that the majority of America agrees with, and no, opposing the President isn’t a policy. It’s time for all democrats to start fighting for a Universal healthcare system and catch up to the rest of the modern world.