Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) call for Democrats to campaign on and fight for a national single-payer health insurance program is just the remedy the doctor ordered for her party.
Here are the four reasons for Democrats to push the envelope on health care reform.
"A big push for single payer health care insurance would take years but it is an opportunity Democrats can’t afford to miss and a responsibility the party can’t ignore."
Medicare for all is good policy
ObamaCare provided health insurance to nearly 20 million Americans who didn’t have it, but the law still leaves 26 million out in the cold. If TrumpCare replaces ObamaCare 22 million people will be unprotected by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Medicare for all means just that. Everybody would be covered.
The only way to lower healthcare costs is to take private insurance companies and their highly paid CEOs out of the equation. Economist Robert Frank recently pointed out in the New York Times that Medicare’s administrative costs are only 2 percent of its total cost.
Administrative costs for private insurance companies are about 6 times higher.
Medicare for all is good politics
Democrats must push aggressively on issues where we have a big advantage. A survey conducted in June by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicates that the biggest advantage Democrats have over Republicans is on health care. Americans think Democrats do a better job on healthcare than Republicans by a margin of 43 percent to 26 percent.
President Andrew Johnson once said Washington is 12 square miles surrounded by reality.
The conventional wisdom in the swampland is that Medicare for all is a health hazard for Democrats. But a national survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found American supported the expansion of government run healthcare.
So, what are Democrats afraid of anyway?
A Fight for Medicare for all Demonstrates Democratic Determination
Trump won because he sounded and acted like a bull in a china shop which is what angry voters wanted. In contrast, Democrats walk on eggshells and don't sound angry enough to shake things up in Washington. A push for universal health insurance is a great way for Democrats to prove that they’re not intimidated by D.C. conventional wisdom and a tough fight.
Leadership means Dems need more than blind opposition to Trump.
Republicans including Trump win with all sorts of push the envelope issue stands. During the campaign last year Trump and most successful GOP candidates pushed for repeal of ACA, even though few voters wanted to destroy Obamacare.
A poll conducted for National Public Radio last month showed that only a quarter of the public favored repeal while everybody else either wanted to fix Obamacare or even extend it.
Taking unpopular stands on issues demonstrates leadership and boldness to Americans who are frustrated with the status quo. The good news for Dems is that Medicare for all is more than twice popular than Trumpcare.
Medicare for all is easy to explain
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was chairman of the committee that took the lead in the consideration of President Bill Clinton’s healthcare proposal. When he first saw the plan with more than a thousand pages Clinton submitted to Congress, he told his aide Lawrence O’Donnell that he could reform the healthcare system simply by deleting 3 words “65 and older” from the legislation that created Medicare health plan for seniors.
You can’t sell legislation that you can’t explain.
Medicare for all would be a lot easier to explain to the public than either Clinton's or Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Clinton and Obama proposals were incredibly complex. The bill the Clintons sent to Congress in 1993 clocked in more than 1,000 pages. The final version of the Affordable Care Act was 906 pages long.
In the fight for Clintoncare and Obamacare, the devil was in the details. Presidents Clinton and Obama both had a problem building support for health care reform because both proposals were so complex and difficult to explain. The lesson Dems need to take from past health initiatives is the KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid.
None of this will be easy but Dems need to get it done.
Truman proposed a health insurance program for seniors in 1945 and again in 1949. Medicare did not become law until Lyndon Johnson pushed Congress to enact it in 1965. LBJ had a big Democratic majority in Congress. Right now, Democrats are a minority in Congress.
The fierce battles over ObamaCare and Trump demonstrate that any health reform fight will be long, tough and polarizing. So, if Democrats take the time and trouble to fight, they might as well just go for the gold.
A big push for single payer health care insurance would take years but it is an opportunity Democrats can’t afford to miss and a responsibility the party can’t ignore.