Medicare-for-All Proponents Warn Against Billionaires’ Plan to “Disrupt” Health Care Industry

Protesters hold a peaceful demonstration in support of health care on September 23, 2017, in Livingston, Montana. (Photo: William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)Protesters hold a peaceful demonstration in support of health care on September 23, 2017, in Livingston, Montana. (Photo: William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

A newly-announced plan by three of the most prominent billionaires in the US to “disrupt” the American health insurance industry was met with extreme skepticism from advocates of a government-run healthcare system on Tuesday.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan Chase released a statement saying they would partner to create an independent healthcare company for their employees that would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

“Our goal is to create solutions that benefit our US employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans,” said J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

“The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” added Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world.

The plan, which is in its early stages, represents a sharp turn away from a single-payer healthcare system which would provide care for all Americans, said critics including the Democratic Socialists of America.

While the three companies appear ready to capitalize on Americans’ dissatisfaction with the for-profit health insurance sector by promising an alternative, a growing majority support a government-run or single-payer healthcare system like the ones enjoyed by every other industrialized nation in the world.

Fifty-three percent now support a plan like Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All proposal, up from just 50 percent in 2016.

At Jacobin — in a piece titled “You Can’t Trust Capitalists” — Meagan Day and Dustin Guastella warned after Sanders’ Town Hall on Medicare for All last week that single-payer advocates should be wary of any attempts by corporations to wade into the national debate over how healthcare should be provided in the US.

“When progressive and left-wing politicians and political organizations neglect to keep capitalists at arm’s length, the latter’s outsize resources give them outsized influence — often resulting in weakened policy and a diluted program,” they wrote. “In order to ensure the eventual passage of comprehensive policy that benefits workers, not just employers, proponents of Medicare for All need to walk a fine line, stoking divisions within the capitalist class without giving the business community a seat at the table.”

Journalist Natalie Shure argued that the only true “disruption” of the health insurance industry would involve covering every American and rejecting a for-profit model altogether.

Others on social media advocated for a single-payer healthcare system and scoffed at the notion that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Buffett, and Dimon, are qualified to or truly interested in offering a public service.