Republicans on Capitol Hill say they’re all about cutting the national debt and slashing the “outrageous levels” of government spending.
They preach austerity as the best way to fix America’s economic woes.
But don’t be fooled.
When Paul Ryan and company talk about slashing government spending, what they’re really saying is that they don’t want government money going to working-class or poor Americans.
Instead, they want that money going to all of their millionaire and billionaire buddies who run America’s giant health insurance corporations.
And in the process of handing over money to corporate executives, Republicans are costing American taxpayers, and the economy, trillions of dollars.
For example, if Republicans hadn’t fought President Obama over a public option or even a single-payer system under Obamacare, and we had followed the path of Medicare’s rollout in 1966, the government would have saved billions.
As the group Physicians for a National Health Program points out, according to a study by researchers at the City University of New York, when all is said and done, the costs of getting Obamacare up and running, and enrolling 7 million Americans in the program within the first year will total more than $6 billion dollars.
Let’s compare that to the costs of Medicare’s 1966 roll-out.
According to the CUNY researchers, Medicare’s costs in its first year totaled $867 million in today’s dollars. That’s roughly $5.1 billion less than what Obamacare is costing in its first year.
And, within 11 months of LBJ signing Medicare into law, 19 million senior citizens had already signed up for it, accounting for 99 percent of those who were eligible for the program.
So, why was the 1966 Medicare roll-out so cheap compared to the Obamacare roll-out?
It was cheaper because back then, Republicans weren’t shilling for their billionaire friends in the healthcare industry by opposing a single-payer system or a public option.
As Dr. David Himmelstein, one of the CUNY researchers, put it, “The simple single-payer, Medicare-for-all approach would save more than $400 billion annually on bureaucracy, enough to give every American first-dollar coverage. But to get those savings you have to break private insurers’ stranglehold on health care and on Washington.”
He added that, “Obamacare is a giant workaround crafted to keep private insurers at the center of the health care system.”
Simply put, a single-payer healthcare system, which excludes billionaire private insurers and the influences they have over Republicans in Washington, could save our country billions.
Fortunately, there’s a backdoor built into Obamacare which allows the individual states to create their own single-payer healthcare systems starting in 2016, and some states are already jumping on-board the single-payer ship.
Back in 2011, the Vermont state government enacted a law creating the nation’s first state-level single-payer health system, Green Mountain Care.
The Kaiser Family Foundation describes Green Mountain Care as, “a state-funded-and-managed insurance pool that would provide near-universal coverage to residents with the expectation that it would reduce health care spending.”
And, in a blog post for The Huffington Post, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin wrote that Green Mountain Care is a “single-payer system” that “will control health care costs, not just by cutting fees to doctors and hospitals, but by fundamentally changing the state’s health care system.”
Seeing the support that a single-payer healthcare system has gained in Vermont, other states are beginning to follow suit.
Right now, lawmakers in Montana are working hard to establish a single-payer system in that state.
Slowly but surely, more and more states will begin to realize the overwhelming benefits of a single-payer healthcare system.
And once that happens, we can expect to see the Canadian experience all over again.
It’s quite possible that by 2020, there will be a system of single-payer states here in the U.S. just like there is in Canada.
But this should have happened a long time ago.
Thanks to Republican obstructionism, we’ve had to spend years getting to a rational and cost-effective healthcare system, when it could have been done 69 years ago, when President Truman first proposed the legislation back in November of 1945.
Over the past 69 years, people have been dying and going bankrupt for lack of healthcare because of the Republican commitment to the healthcare billionaires.
Obamacare was a start, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
America needs a single-payer healthcare system and it needs it now.
Congressman John Conyers for example has once again introduced House Resolution 676, the United States National Health Care Act, which calls for the creation of a single-payer health care system in the U.S.
Let’s make a single-payer healthcare system a reality in America.