Single payer for all

If Obamacare repealed, replace it with beneficial plan

After dozens of failed attempts during the Obama administration and a high-profile failure during President Trump’s first 100 days, Congressional Republicans embarked on yet another quest to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

The latest effort consists of the American Health Care Act, which passed the House with one vote to spare. Senators are rewriting the legislation—no surprise, considering Americans across the political spectrum have voiced outrage over various provisions.

While it’s commendable that the Senate won’t consider a flawed bill without review, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t sanction a comprehensive revision. His working group—13 men, no women—will tinker at most, as he only has a two-vote margin and the same conservatives to placate.

To paraphrase a classic Saturday Night Live line by Coffee Talk host Linda Richman, the American Health Care Act is neither American nor Health Care. The most odious clauses strike our most vulnerable neighbors: lower-income adults and children, particularly those with chronic illnesses (i.e., “pre-existing conditions”). (See “Abhorrent,” Second & Flume, page 7.) Bill provisions also strip away services insurance must cover (i.e., “essential benefits”) to the point that policies may become hollow shells.

There’s a better solution—up and running in industrialized countries.

Single payer.

Also known as Medicare for All, single payer insurance eliminates the byzantine system perpetuated by the American Health Care Act—and, yes, Obamacare. Republicans lament the staggering cost of delivering medical treatment; cutting out the administrative and profit margins or private insurance companies seems a straightforward way to save huge amounts without touching care. (A 2013 study of HR 676, a single payer bill that failed in Congress, estimated such savings at $476 billion annually.)

When firefighters or police respond to a 911 call, we don’t get a bill for their service. We’ve paid into a pot that covers our lives getting saved, our safety protected, according to our means. Health care should not differ from public safety or national security.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot occur without equal protection under the law. We encourage Republicans—including our congressman, Doug LaMalfa—to consider the Constitution and human needs for health care.