The smartest, savviest people in Washington will tell you Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” idea is dead on arrival, a waste of time and energy. But since those same smart, savvy people told you Donald Trump didn’t have a prayer of becoming president, I’d advise keeping an open mind.
What the Vermont senator’s bill has going for it is simple: It’s the right thing to do.
The issue is not whether we should have socialized medicine in this country. We already do — Medicare for everyone over 65; Medicaid for the indigent, the working poor and the disabled; the Children’s Health Insurance Program for minors in modest-income families. That’s a total of around 133 million Americans who already enjoy most of the benefits of a single-payer health system similar to those in other wealthy countries.
The philosophical debate about whether government should play a major role in medical care is over, as evidenced by the GOP’s “repeal and replace” fiasco. In trying vainly to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans argued about how to subsidize health insurance, not whether to do so. The most conservative approach — working through the existing free-market, fee-for-service health care system mediated by private insurance companies — had already been tried. It is called Obamacare.
In the end, Republicans couldn’t pull the trigger. The question now is whether Democrats will continue to settle for half-measures or finally demand what the party has claimed to want for decades: fully universal health care as a right, not as a…
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