The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

McKenzie Wilson, 

Data for Progress, Be a Hero Launch New Progressive Proposal for Healthcare: Public Infrastructure for Care

"The public infrastructure for care framework opens up new terrain in the healthcare debate, which can break the stalemate between progressives and centrists."


Today, progressive think tank Data for Progress and healthcare advocacy organization Be a Hero, led by healthcare activist Ady Barkan, released their new joint initiative for Public Infrastructure for Care. This proposal provides the Democratic Party a roadmap for achieving the goal of making healthcare a human right. This means, in no uncertain terms, that every resident in this country can receive that is free at the point of service.

To achieve this goal of making healthcare a human right, Data for Progress and Be a Hero propose that a system of universal insurance is not enough. Be a Hero and Data for Progress' plan proposes the federal government work to dramatically increase healthcare capacity by hiring new doctors and nurses, manufacturing pharmaceuticals and medical technology, and expanding hospitals and community health centers in underserved areas.

As lawmakers spar over how to define "infrastructure," Data for Progress and Be a Hero's proposal offers a solution that addresses the leading concerns of voters -- and plays to the strengths of Democratic Party: The government must dramatically expand public infrastructure for care. This proposal outlines how the federal government can improve American healthcare outcomes right now while laying the groundwork to make a single-payer option for insurance possible.

"The public infrastructure for care framework opens up new terrain in the healthcare debate, which can break the stalemate between [Democratic] progressives and centrists," the report states, co-authored by Data for Progress co-founder Colin McAuliffe and Senior Analyst Ethan Winter. "For centrists, the public infrastructure for care shores up key flaws in their buy-in proposals, and for progressives, the public infrastructure for care offers a pathway for transformative change, even during an administration which is skeptical of single-payer."

The proposal identifies and aims to address two of the most urgent problems with the U.S. healthcare system:

  • Individual-level financial barriers to care created by our dysfunctional system of employer provided insurance, which leaves many Americans uninsured or underinsured;
  • Healthcare under-capacity in rural areas and city centers, which face shortages of doctors and nurses and a growing number of insolvent hospitals.

Data for Progress' and Be A Hero's proposal for a Public Infrastructure for Care would help to address these systemic issues and ensure that every American can go to the hospital, see a doctor, and get the healthcare they need. This will improve American health outcomes while also growing the economy.

"Passing a public infrastructure for care isn't just the right thing to do -- it is politically advantageous for Democrats to shore up strength with voters ahead of the 2022 midterms," said Data for Progress Political Director Marcela Mulholland. "Americans historically trust Democrats far more than Republicans when it comes to finding healthcare solutions, and a public infrastructure for care will bridge the gaps in Biden's existing plans and make sure that voters feel the relief these plans are designed to provide."

"It's possible to do everything 'right' in order to obtain health care, from picking the right job to living in the right part of the country, and still not be able to receive crucial, lifesaving care," said Be a Hero Policy Director Matthew Cortland. "The Public Infrastructure for Care will loosen the stranglehold exerted by our broken health care system on people's lives, enabling them to structure their lives around factors other than obtaining the care they need in order to live -- and provide the eventual roadmap for high quality health care for every single person in this country."

Read the memo on Data for Progress' website here.

Data for Progress is a multidisciplinary group of experts using state-of-the-art techniques in data science to support progressive activists and causes.