With the GOP health care plan in shambles it’s now time for the Democratic Party to do more than just fight to preserve the ACA. Democrats must now champion a health care plan that every American truly deserves: Medicare for all. It’s time for the Democratic Party to be bold or go home!
We are told from the time we are old enough to understand words that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. I fully agree with that sentiment. I also believe it’s time as a nation we start living up to that ideal by providing every man, woman and child of America with basic health care from the cradle to the grave just like every other industrialized nation offers it’s citizens.
And that’s not just my view but also the view of countless Democrats who call my SiriusXM radio show that airs on the network’s progressive channel. True, they have raised other issues they believe Democrats should be focused on going forward from countering GOP voter suppression to remedying institutional racism and more. But the number by one issue by far I’ve heard over and over is that we must advocate Medicare for all. And if the Democratic leadership truly cares about what the base of the party is saying, they will begin fighting for Medicare for all.
It’s a simple idea, one championed by Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential campaign. It would be implemented through the gradual expansion of Medicare by expanding eligibility from the current age of 65 downwards. Another idea would be to start extending eligibility to younger Americans first since they in general have fewer health needs. In any event the goal is to slowly and responsibly expand Medicare until every American is covered. (One way to raise the revenue needed for Medicare for all was laid out in Sander’s campaign but we could also look for guidance to similar systems currently in place in other industrialized nations.)
This concept in one form or another has percolated in our country for years – going back to the early 1900’s and discussed in earnest right after World War II. The best chance we saw for a national health care system came shortly after World War II in 1949 when President Harry Truman proposed it. Unfortunately the pubic soured on Truman’s proposal thanks to a campaign funded by the American Medical Association that used scare tactics about “socialized medicine” and the “Bolshevization” of health care.
Since then public opinion on whether the federal government should provide health care has fluctuated. But a Pew poll released in June found that 60 percent of Americans say “the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans.” That is the highest number in nearly a decade. And younger people are the biggest supporters with 67 percent in favor of federal health care for all.
Among Democrats, a whopping 80 percent support the concept. How many other issues have almost universal appeal to Democrats?!
Medicare for all not only helps people have access to health care—it will also help businesses in Ameirca. If the cost of providing health care is no longer a financial burden borne by individual companies, they will have more money to hire additional employees or pay current employees higher income or invest in equipment or what have you. It also would likely make U.S. companies more competitive in the global marketplace because by freeing corporations from health care costs they can then make and sell their products for cheaper and still make a profit.
There’s also something intangible that championing Medicare for all will do for the Democratic Party. A Washington Post/ABC poll released Sunday found that only 37 percent of Americans believe the Democratic Party stands for something, while 52 percent believe the Democratic Party is only about opposing Trump.
Resisting Trump’s policies as well as his bigotry and sexism are vitally important. But the Democratic Party must stand for something that offers our fellow Ameircans something tangible. Something that makes their lives and their families lives better. Medicare for all does just that. It will make it clear that Democrats are more than just about opposing Trump but we believe that government can and should help Americans.
All the GOP ideas are dead for now, including repeal-only. Which makes it exactly the right time for Democrats to stop sitting back and letting Republicans set the narrative on health care. It’s time for Democrats to immediately go on the offensive. I’m not saying don’t shore up the ACA in the interim – after all the Democrats have little power in Congress.
But the Democratic Party needs to again be the party with the bold vision that offers help to Americans. Every American regardless of political affiliation deserves to no longer worry if they can afford basic health care for themselves and their family. It’s time the Democratic Party made that happen by making Medicare for all the issue that defines it in the 2018 midterm election and beyond.