Reminder: Elections Are About Issues

Republicans push “culture wars.” Democrats have solutions to problems.

A daily news letter from Robert Reich reminded me that elections should be about issues. On of the biggest issues that affects nearly every American every day is health care. Somehow year after year Republicans stop health care legislation and Americans suffer because of it either physically or economically.

Here we have Washington representative Pramilla Jayapal on DemocracyNow explaining why Medicare for All is an idea whose time has come (4 minutes):

Our current system gives us the highest prices in the world and nearly the very worst results. It is amazing that Americans would accept this when there are so many easily implemented plans that would in the long run be cheaper while covering all Americans.

From Robert Reich’s newsletter of Feb. 17:   

Even before the pandemic, the typical American family was spending more than $6,000 a year on health insurance premiums. Add in copayments and deductibles that doctors, hospitals, and drug companies also charge, and that sum rises to $6,400. Add in typical out-of-pocket expenses for pharmaceuticals, and it’s at least $6,800. That’s not all, because some of the taxes the typical family pays are for health insurance, too — for Medicare and Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Add them in, and the typical household pays $8,975 a year for health insurance. This number doesn’t include what typical workers’ employers spend on their health insurance – which might otherwise go to their wages.

American spending on healthcare per person is more than twice the average in the world’s other thirty-five advanced nations. Yet the United States ranks near the bottom among advanced nations for life span and infant mortality. Americans are sicker, our lives are shorter, and we have more chronic illnesses. Canadians, for example, can expect to live on average almost four and a half years longer than Americans, even though health care spending per person is only about half as high as in the U.S.

Healthcare is so expensive that many Americans put off seeing a doctor until their health has seriously deteriorated. Even with the Affordable Care Act, some 30 million Americans have no health insurance coverage at all.

Not only do too many dollars go to super-specialists and too few to preventive generalists, but the administrative costs involved in private for-profit insurance are humongous. About a third of what the typical American pays for health insurance goes to the people who oversee billing and collections. And then of course there are marketing and advertising expenses, and the profits that go to shareholders or private-equity managers.

Finally, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to decouple health insurance from employment. Losing a job shouldn’t mean the loss of a family’s lifeline to healthcare.

Why do we have such a ridiculous, badly designed, massively expensive system that we can’t seem to jettison? Near as I can figure it comes down to this:

First it is massively profitable for the for-profit health care companies. They in turn use those profits to buys US senators and representative. I am sure you can find huge donations to Iowa’s Republican congressional contingent.

Secondly, this is a leftover of the Jim Crow era. Unaffordable health care premiums serve as a way to keep “undesirables” out of the health care system.

Third, having privatized health care controlled by employers is a huge hammer that employers can use to keep employees in line and afraid to leave their jobs or rebel in ny way. One of the greatest control mechanisms ever created by the right. Makes me laugh out loud when the right talks about freedom.

Who here does’t know an individual who had a great idea for a business but chose to stay with their job because of fear of losing health care?

That is just one of the issues that Democrats will work for when they are elected. In this case, lower premiums and decoupling health care from employment are a great example of truly liberating ideas. Republicans ideas want o keep you tethered to a job you hate out of fear of losing health care. That is the opposite of the freedom they mouth but do not support.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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