ALL WE NEED
IS A LITTLE VISION
I am not happy with my parents, grandparents or my great
grandparents. They really dropped the ball on health care, and I'm paying
I'm moved to write this because of the recent battle in
Congress over the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. While I was no fan
of the Republican bill, I did little rejoicing when it failed, mainly
because I was so saddened with the whole debate.
We should have universal, single-payer health care, plain and
simple. It should have been done generations ago, and it should be a
staple of American society, just like police and fire protection, and
public education through high school.
Why was health care left out? It's never made sense to me,
and never will. So many attempts were made, beginning with Theodore
Roosevelt in 1906. All failed, primarily because there was a sense that
national health insurance smacked of socialism.
Really? That is what fascinates me. Because in 1965, Lyndon
Johnson, as part of his Great Society legislation, signed into law the
humongous bureaucratic system of Medicare. And it's become a staple of
American society, as long as you're 65 or older.
My fascination stems from the people I know who are adamantly
against big government, who want government out of their lives. Some of
them are over 65, and if there was an attempt to take Medicare away from
them, they would scream bloody murder.
I'm sure they're out there (and I'm sure I'll hear from
them), but I don't know anyone who opposes Medicare. How could anyone
oppose taking care of the sick and elderly? But then again, how could
anyone oppose taking care of the poor and sick? And the children?
We need Medicare for all. It's a new catchphrase, and maybe
it will help turn the tide. Forget "universal health care" or
"single-payer." We need "Medicare for all."
I'm not suggesting Medicare, as it exists today, is a perfect
system. There's always major tweaking to be done. In 2007, Income Related
Monthly Adjustments Amount (IRMAA) for Plan B insurance was enacted for
higher earners to pay a more proportionate share. It's an example of a
good tweak, with more to come.
But first we have to get there. Our health care system, for
those of us not on Medicare (including me, for a few more years) is
ridiculously flawed. Obamacare was, in my opinion, a small step in the
right direction, but nowhere close to where we need to be.
I'm fortunate enough to own my own business. I've offered
health insurance as an employee benefit for over 25 years, but I've always
been perplexed as to why it's my responsibility, why it's my burden. Now,
with Obamacare, I'm forced to do so as part of the Employer Mandate
because I qualify as a business with more than 50 employees.
And it's so flawed. Employee's spouses aren't covered, their
children aren't covered. With premiums skyrocketing, I'd be out of
business if forced to cover entire families. Maybe Apple and Microsoft and
IBM can do so, but not businesses like mine.
Imagine if there was Medicare for all. Imagine if Harry
Truman had been successful, if the unions and the American Medical
Association hadn't thwarted him, and health care was available to all as a
benefit of living in the greatest country on Earth.
We need a leader who will make it happen. George Washington,
in his Farewell Address, suggested a public education system be created in
the United States. Thomas Jefferson promoted it as well, stressing the
importance of education in order to maintain a functional democracy. They
both died without seeing it happen.
We need a Horace Mann. He established public education
in Massachusetts in 1840, and it was followed soon thereafter by other
states. He was a visionary, and he got it right.
Imagine our country without a public education system for our
children. Unthinkable. If my parents, or grandparents, or great
grandparents had got it right, we wouldn't be able to imagine our country
without a health care system where everyone had access to doctors and
hospitals and the cost is taken care of by our government through taxes,
IRMAA and co-pays.
It would be nice if my children, my children's children, and
their children didn't blame me for lacking vision. It would be nice if
everyone got together in this country and understood that you can have
public and private schools, and you can have public and private health
care. That's not socialism. That's vision.