Editorial Article

Four Reasons Why Healthcare Should be the Focus of Democratic Campaigns in 2020

By Sudhir Joshi, CCDP Communications Director.

In my opinion, healthcare is the most important problem facing America today.   The cost of medical care, including prescription drugs is dramatically higher in the US as compared to other developed countries.  Millions of American cling to corporate jobs they despise just because they are scared to lose their health insurance.  Many are forced to go to Canada or Mexico for lower-priced drugs or simply affordable dental work.

That is why Democrats have an opportunity to clearly differentiate themselves from Republicans by making healthcare the centerpiece of their 2020 campaigns.

Here are the top reasons:
1. Healthcare is a crisis that affects everybody.  I have a friend who was diagnosed with stomach cancer while he was in between jobs. With no health insurance, he had to liquidate all his assets to pay for the treatment.  The good news is, he beat the cancer. The bad news is, he had to declare bankruptcy just before turning 50.  Now, at 50, he’s starting over.

Next time you go to dinner with a group, go around the table and ask everyone if they know of similar stories like my friend’s.  I will bet that everyone will know of someone in a similar situation. Black or white, rural or urban, man or woman, healthcare affects everybody.

2. The Republicans have no solution.  The GOP ran on ‘repeal and replace.’  Partly because of this, they held both houses of Congress from 2010 to 2018. And during all that time, they have not come up with anything better than Obamacare.

The reason is, that there is no solution possible to the right of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even though the GOP lied, of course, by labeling the ACA ‘socialism’ and a ‘government takeover of healthcare.’ The reality is that the ACA is a free market solution.

The ACA standardized coverages (i.e., children can stay on parent’s policies till 26; people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage, etc) and required everyone to get insurance. It required the states to set up free-market exchanges. And, it subsidized those who couldn’t afford policies through Medicaid expansion.   There is no solution to the right of this.

So, the Republicans have spent they’re time sabotaging the ACA by blocking the Medicaid expansion, refusing to set up state-wide exchanges, and suing to eliminate the pre-existing condition protection. If Democrats would get more aggressive in their campaign rhetoric and call Republicans out on this behavior, I think they will find the GOP is very vulnerable on this issue.

3. Democrats have solutions — from accepting the Medicaid expansion at the state level to proposing Medicare-for-all at the national level. Democrats should embrace the ACA and run on restoring it, expanding it, improving it, or taking the nation to an even better solution like Medicare-for-all.

4. The business benefits have not been campaigned on.  In Canada or Europe, businesses do not have to absorb the cost of healthcare because of those country’s single-payer systems. In the US, a huge cost of doing business is the cost of healthcare.  Most businesses pay 80% of the cost of their employee’s healthcare.  So, businesses hire fewer people to avoid healthcare costs. What if businesses didn’t need to incur this expense? It is logical to assume that they would be quicker to hire more people when the need arose.  One study found that a single-payer system would create 2.6 million jobs. The job creations aspects of single-payer healthcare have not been campaigned on.
Healthcare is the crisis of our time.

Climate change, voting rights, reproductive rights, are all important issues that should be discussed in this election cycle.  However, no issue affects every person, every day, right in the pocketbook, like healthcare. Democrats need to seize the moment and run on healthcare as the primary issue of our time.

Comments 4

  1. Sudhir, you are largely right, but there are two caveats:

    (1). No single-payer plan should transfer the cost burden from corporations to working people. My former employer, AT&T, spent $8000 per year per employee on healthcare insurance. If single-payer were to save this cost for AT&T, and if AT&T employees had to pay an equivalent in taxes, then single-payer would be unpopular.

    (2). There is a market-based alternative. It is the Swiss system. Former Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) suggested it.
    Switzerland requires everyone to purchase insurance from a private insurer who has a narrow profit-margin and whom the government heavily regulates.

    The Swiss approach could be a potent alternative for the Republicans, if they had a constructive bone in their collective body. But they do not. All they can do is destroy. All because an absolute majority American voters twice elected a black intellectual to the White House.

  2. There’s a moral question for those seeking health reforms. Is health care a right or a commodity service to be rationed by income class? (https://mHealthTalk.com/moral-dilemma/)

    As important as healthcare is, I think addressing EXTREME INEQUALITY has higher priority, because it underlies this and all other issues facing Americans in this election cycle. INEQUALITY also offers Democrats an easy to explain narrative and gives voters a common enemy to focus their anger against.

  3. We need to just expand, but expand and improve medicare-for-all. The Swiss system is dealing with rising costs. These costs could tank the system in the long run. It’s good for now, but only because it gives help to those who can’t afford it, but that can also mean that some may need help but not get that help just as happens here when medicaid is only given to people so poor they can barely afford to drive to the hospital or even own a car.

    The best system for the future would be one that keeps costs low and I don’t see a free market solution that will do that. Health care should not be a for profit enterprise.

    We can pay health providers well and avoid the costs of many competing insurance companies spending money on ads and their own internal form of “bureaucracy” by socializing the system. We need this socialized approach to deal with future expense. Plus, we need to invest in the things that by far, and with a lower cost, keep a society healthy. These things are clean water, clean air, proper sanitation, proper regulation of medicine and medical research (taking into account many studies, and paying careful attention to those studies that may indicate that a given drug is not effective or less effective than what we already have). We must also include with that a concern about preserving the balances in nature that are friendly to our survival.

    Health care isn’t all about drugs and being seen by doctors and hospitals when needed. Health is a wider and more integrated subject than might appear and first glance. So the idea that it should be the main thrust, over other issues, ignores the importance of the other issues that in many ways have more to do with our health than what is thought of as the “health care” system.

    Politically we should consider that many voters have special concerns and issues that prompt them to vote. I think we need to promote our progressive approaches as an integrated package, and on a broad front, just as many candidates are already trying to do. This, in my opinion, is more likely to win races, and meanwhile we can point out how very interrelated and important all the issues are so that we create even more reasons for people to ally with our Party and perhaps move people from being one issue voters, who are then will be more reliable Democratic voters.

    Our political messaging shouldn’t be all about any one progressive program that deals with only one issue, it need to be broad and integrated.

    All this in my humble opinion of course.

    Mitch in precinct 83

    1. We also need the ability to edit our own posts, when we spot problems after posting. The first sentence should have said, and I thought it did say “We need not just to expand, but…” Sorry for that error and friendly edits, not of substance but of form, are welcome.

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