Monday, February 24, 2020

Hey, Cher, we need Medicare For All

Whether it's wearing face tape which comes loose on the red carpet of the UK premiere of BURLESQUE or whether it's dating Gene Simmons or whether it's doing disco to death or whether it's doing those awful hair care product infomercials , Cher's responsible for a lot of embarrassments. When she's serving up Tweets slamming Bernie Sanders and offering a photo of Hitler, she's really crossing a line. No longer is it, "Hey, everybody laugh at the funny lady!" Now she's actually a threat to Medicare For All.

Universal healthcare is not a new idea -- except maybe to Cher. Abigail Abrams (TIME MAGAZINE) offered this history last year:

The idea of the government ensuring that people have access to health care began long before Medicare. While local governments experimented with health care for centuries, the first national health insurance program came from Germany’s Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s. Other European countries followed with their own versions of government health care for workers, and by the early 1900s, reformers in the U.S. were advocating for a similar system.

The push was closely tied to the labor movement, according to Northern Illinois University history professor Beatrix Hoffman, who studies the politics of health reform. But businesses and doctors attacked the idea of government health care, and it soon died. This opposition also killed President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to add health coverage to the Social Security Act in 1935. And when President Harry Truman took up the cause after World War II, the American Medical Association and other opponents used Cold War scare tactics to paint “health security,” as it was known then, as socialized medicine and kill the plan again.

“The defeat of the Truman plan was so massive, it was such a big failure, that supporters decided they were going to stop trying for universal coverage,” Hoffman says. “That’s when they invented the idea of Medicare for the elderly only.”

FDR's dream for America? It took place in many other countries. In fact, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US government ensured that the Iraqi people would have universal healthcare.

Back in the US, the biggest push was probably from the late and legendary US House Rep John Conyers who began proposing The United States National Health Care Act or Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act the same year that the US invaded Iraq (2003, in case Cher's reading).

Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- so many countries have universal healthcare.

In 2014, THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) noted:

Back in 1945 — a mere seven months into a presidency he inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt — Truman proposed a “universal” national health insurance program. In his remarks to Congress, he declared, “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.”

The first was to address the number and disparity of physicians, nurses and other health professionals, especially in low-income and rural communities where there were “no adequate facilities for the practice of medicine” and “the earning capacity of the people in some communities makes it difficult if not impossible for doctors who practice there to make a living.” To begin to correct this problem, Truman wanted the federal government to construct modern, quality hospital across the nation—especially where they did not yet exist.

The second issue was the need to develop and bolster public health services (both to control the spread of infectious diseases and improve sanitary conditions across the nation) and maternal and child health care. With respect to the latter, Harry Truman reminded Congress, “the health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility.” Third, he sought to increase the nation’s investment in both medical research and medical education.

The fourth problem addressed the high cost of individual medical care. “The principal reason why people do not receive the care they need,” Truman noted, “is that they cannot afford to pay for it on an individual basis at the time they need it. This is true not only for needy persons. It is also true for a large proportion of normally self-supporting persons.”

And fifth, he focused on the lost earnings that inevitably occur when serious illness strikes. “Sickness,” Truman cogently explained, “not only brings doctor bills; it also cuts off income.

So FDR and Harry Truman and John Conyers -- three legendary figures -- tried to fulfill an American need. Need -- not want.

Cher's an H. Ross Perot supporter so maybe she doesn't consider herself to be a Democrat. But shame on any Democrat who knocks universal healthcare. We should be picking up the torch from FDR, Truman and Conyers. We should see it as our duty to fulfill this need. Thanks to the work of a lot of nurses as well as Bernie Sanders, Medicare For All entered the popular conversation in the last years. Despite attempts to dismiss it, the people favor it. Even the Kaiser Family Foundation has had to note that:

For many years, Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking public opinion on the idea of a national health plan (including language referring to Medicare-for-all since 2017). Historically, our polls have shown support for the federal government doing more to help provide health insurance for more Americans, though support among Republicans has decreased over time (Figure 1). But this never translated into majority support for a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan until 2016 (Figure 2). A hallmark of Senator Sanders’ primary campaign for President in 2016 was a national “Medicare-for-all” plan and since then, a slight majority of Americans say they favor such a plan (Figure 3). Overall, majorities of Democrats and independents favor a national Medicare-for-all plan while most Republicans oppose.  

It's a need.

Nurse Barb Kalbach (COMMON DREAMS) explains:

Rural hospitals, local nursing homes, and care facilities are the lifeblood of our small towns across the heartland. We’re watching our farms and small towns wither away as the countryside empties out and our health declines.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A system that puts the wellbeing of our community ahead of the bottom line of a select few can and will deliver the care we need, where and when we need it, and keep our rural communities alive and vibrant.

Which brings us to the Medicare for All Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state. Instead of allowing private corporations to decide who pays for health care and how much, we would put our financing back into public hands — and our health care decisions back into the hands of patients and their care provider.

Under Medicare for All, virtually all aspects of our health care will be covered. This includes, but isn’t limited to, medical, dental, vision, hearing, prescription drugs, mental health, addiction treatment, and much more.

Medicare for All also covers long-term and in-home care as well. What a gift to our families, especially those that often go unseen by an industry dominated by profit: the elderly and people with disabilities. Long-term and in-home care allows people to stay near their families or in their homes, rooted in the communities we call home.

Perhaps most importantly for Iowa and other rural communities, Jayapal’s bill includes a special projects budget for capital expenditures and staffing needs of providers in rural or medically underserved areas.

It's a need.

Yesterday, Bernie appeared on 60 MINUTES. CNN is calling this exchange "disastrous" -- we disagree:

Cooper: Do you know how all — how much though? I mean, do you have a price tag for — for all of this?

Sanders: We do. I mean, you know, and — and– the price tag is — it will be substantially less than letting the current system go. I think it’s about $30 trillion.

Cooper: That’s just for “Medicare for All,” you’re talking about?

Sanders: That’s just “Medicare for All,” yes.

Cooper: Do you have — a price tag for all of these things?

Sanders: No, I don’t. We try to — no, you mentioned making public colleges and universities tuition free and canceling all student debt, that’s correct. That’s what I want to do. We pay for that through a modest tax on Wall Street speculation.

Cooper: But you say you don’t know what the total price is, but you know how it’s gonna be paid for. How do you know it’s gonna be paid for if you don’t know how much the price is?

Sanders: Well, I can’t — you know, I can’t rattle off to you every nickel and every dime. But we have accounted for — you — you talked about “Medicare for All.” We have options out there that will pay for it.

How is that a disaster?

The American people aren't worth it? Is that what Cher thinks? Maybe the Armenian should stick to wearing Native American garb and singing "Half-Breed" (we all know Cher's not Native American, right?).

Here's an example of a real disaster -- telling people the Iraq War would be paid for with oil revenues which, for the record, Dick Cheney did say. Trillions of dollars later, no oil revenue was ever used to pay for the Iraq War.

The support for Medicare For All is growing. Cher and the rest will be tired relics of the past. ABC NEWS reports that the Black Voters Matter Fund announced in Charleston, South Carolina today that they are backing it and quotes Nick Rubin stating, "Everyone deserves healthcare, and getting the care you need shouldn't be a financial burden. No one should ever have to decide whether they're going to pay their rent or get the pharmaceuticals they need to have a good life." It's not exactly "The times we live in have less value Than Bob Dole's useless arm," but we like it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }