Posts Tagged ‘Universal Health Care’

How America turned away from the idea of universal health care

July 31st, 2014

While we in the single payer movement fight to dismantle the fragmented, for-profit healthcare system, it helps to know how we got here in the first place. Jacobin Magazine‘s The Neoliberal Turn in American Health Care by A.W. Gaffney is a worthy longread about how the political climate in United States led to the emergence and entrenchment of the idea that health care is a commodity, rather than a human right – the complete opposite ideology of the more socially democratic nations of Europe.

Gaffney traces the history of American health care from President Harry Truman’s failed effort to establish a national health insurance plan, to the creation of Medicare, to the rise of health savings accounts to the current private insurance-centered Affordable Care Act. The fact that the U.S. still doesn’t have a healthcare system that is free and available to all at the point of service is, as outlined by the article, due to a combination of Cold War politics, corporate pushback against the New Deal, the influence of libertarian think tanks, and rising healthcare costs.

The fundamental social-democratic idea of universalism — of an entire population with the equal right to equally comprehensive health care benefits — has all but disappeared from the political center. Hayek’s dismissal of an “objectively ascertainable standard of health,” perhaps a fringe idea at the time, now seems to be the reigning paradigm.

The doctrine of consumer choice, whether with respect to the selection of tiered “bronze, silver, or gold” health benefits, or of choosing to divide one’s “own money” between health care and other goods, has been almost quietly triumphant. Of course, this great neoliberal transformation in the political economy of American health care wasn’t the result of the vagaries of nature or the unique cultural proclivities of Americans: it was part and a parcel of a much larger corporate-driven transformation, which, over these same years, has drastically exacerbated inequality while simultaneously fraying the substance of American civic democracy.

I wish the article had covered the role that race and racism played in America’s failure to establish universal health care and continues to impede efforts in doing so. After all, divide-and-conquer tactics are especially effective ways to stop social change. Toxic economic theories that celebrate a “you’re on your own” mentality and ridicule the ideas of “community,” “social justice” and “togetherness,” are much more likely to find sympathetic ears among a populace who  see their neighbors as “the Other.”

Why do we accept these services as free and universal…?

August 19th, 2013


100 Economists call for single-payer, universal health care NOW!

December 28th, 2012

What a great New Year’s Message:

100 Economists call for single-payer, universal health care NOW!

Dear California OneCare Supporters,

Increase the eligibility age for Medicare to 67? Is Congress completely crazy?

We should be reducing the Medicare eligibility age, not increasing it. Healthcare costs when you reach 65 are greater than at any other time of your life. The notion that it’s good fiscal policy to wait a couple of years until the cost of treatment for many people will become more expensive due to delayed diagnoses and treatment is wrongheaded and cynical.

In fact, a small incremental increase in the payroll tax (currently just 1.49%) could cover everyone, young and old.  That’s the direction Congress should take, and it’s exactly what we are fighting for in California.

At California OneCare, we’re educating and advocating for a single, public, not-for-profit health-insurance plan that will cover all Californians and be a model for the nation. Our programs educate and empower people on a personal, grassroots level because we believe that person-to-person contact is the only way to achieve lasting change with this complex issue. Check out our media page for more information.

Your support is appreciated by us and, yes, by economists:

Last week, more than 100 economists emphatically endorsed a national single-payer, Medicare-for-All system in the U.S. that covers all ages as the most humane and fiscally-responsible way to run a health care system:

Your continued support and your donation at this time will enable California OneCare to expand outreach, organizing and advocacy in 2013.

Please mail a tax-deductible contribution today to California OneCare Education Fund, P.O. Box 5116, Novato, CA 94948. Or go to today and make a contribution.

With your help, we will win!

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Yours in health care justice,

Andrew McGuire

Executive Director, California OneCare Campaign

Our thanks to Dr. Don McCanne and our friends at Physicians for a National Health Program – California for sharing this Statement on Healthcare.

Canadians talk to Americans about their single payer healthcare system

October 2nd, 2012

Here’s a blast from the past. This 16-minute video from the early 1990s by Off Center Video features physicians, economists and ordinary Canadians explaining Canada’s universal healthcare system. The presentation is introduced by the late Minnesota Senator, Paul Wellstone. Imagine if every household in America could see this. Share with your family and friends!