Opinion writer Matt Miller had an interesting article in The Washington Post recently quoting entrepreneurs in Canada saying how bewildered they are over American resistance to expanding access to health care. These Canadian businessmen say they love “Canada’s single-payer system for its quality and cost-effectiveness,” and don’t understand America’s confusing patchwork of health plans and administrative bureaucracy.
And this healthcare battle is threatening to take down the entire United States economy. Two weeks ago, the so-called “Tea Party” wing of the Republican Party, led by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, engineered a shutdown of the federal government after the White House rejected GOP demands in Congress to defund the Affordable Care Act. Now, Congressional “Tea Party” members are refusing to agree to raise the federal debt ceiling unless their specific demands are met. If the crisis isn’t resolved in the next two days, the U.S. will default on its debts. All this over helping millions of Americans gain access to affordable health care! Such a situation would be unthinkable to our friends in Canada.
But what the Canadians perhaps don’t realize is that for opponents of universal health care (who see the ACA as a terrifying step toward single payer), a dysfunctional system is all about maintaining control. Take “job lock.” Canadians can easily quit a job they no longer like without fear of losing their health care. Before the ACA, that wasn’t the norm for Americans. But universal healthcare opponents, especially those who lead large corporations, don’t like the fact that Americans can now more easily leave their jobs, and have the option of setting up new companies that will compete with their former employers. Second, the big health insurance companies also like to maintain control over how much profit they make. They certainly don’t like all the new nonprofit health insurance companies that are now cropping up on the state ACA exchanges. Finally, health care is wealth. Sick, desperate and poor people make an easily manipulated and exploited population for multinational corporations seeking a cheap labor force. So, universal healthcare opponents aren’t crazy. They know exactly what they’re doing and what they want.