A newly-announced plan by three of the most prominent billionaires in the U.S. to "disrupt" the American health insurance industry was met with extreme skepticism from advocates of a government-run healthcare system on Tuesday.
healthcare doesn't need to be "disrupted." it needs to be provided to all people, free of charge. this framing still treats healthcare as if it's any other industry where one can make a profit.https://t.co/k0W3T7xzSA— Scott Surette (@scottsurette) January 30, 2018
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 U.S. 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.
We can do better than a healthcare system run by a rent-seeker, a slumlord and a Wall Street bank. It’s called Medicare for All. https://t.co/xhO9Cqk8TQ— DSA (@DemSocialists) January 30, 2018
Who better to decide healthcare than a man that's been destroying small business for decades, another whose greed helped destroy global economy, and the largest shareholder in #DAPL? https://t.co/oUzduOGx44— Jordan (@JordanChariton) January 30, 2018
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 U.S.
"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."
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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.
"super good healthcare, but only for employees of a few incredibly wealthy companies" is pretty much the opposite of disrupting the healthcare system— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) January 30, 2018
the best idea I've heard for disrupting the healthcare industry is replacing private insurance companies with one unified public insurance pool that covers everyone— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) January 30, 2018
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.
Dear God. Please can we have single-payer? Does anyone really think health care from Amazon would be better than health care from the government? https://t.co/BMBbnEX0rh— Brian J. White (@talkwordy) January 30, 2018
Of course we can trust Amazon to solve America's health-care crisis. When has Jeff Bezos ever given any indication that his company does not value the health and well-being of all Americans? pic.twitter.com/tfiShJgskh— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) January 30, 2018