This weekend saw a major defeat to President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) with the American Health Care Act being pulled from Congress on Friday as the proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Democrats in Congress are rejoicing as the signature legislation they helped pass in 2010 cemented former President Obama’s nuanced legacy remained in tact – for now.
What the decision from Ryan and Trump shows is that there is still an appetite to replace Obamacare. However the replacement needs to be better than Obamacare, which the AHCA was clearly not. And I agree with Ryan and Trump that there needs to be a replacement to Obamacare, but not the way they want to replace it.
It is time for a medicare-for-all health care system America.
On Saturday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told constituents at a town hall in his home state that he plans on introducing a medicare-for-all type legislation to Congress “within a couple of weeks.” While both parts of the legislative branch have Republican majorities, this does not mean Sanders’ proposal won’t go unheard.
In fact, according to a Gallup poll in May of 2016, 58 percent of Americans believe there should be a federally-funded health care system to replace the Affordable Care Act. And it is not as though Sanders is the first person to introduce something to replace Obamacare from the perspective of the left. There’s already a bill that was introduced to Congress advocating for a medicare-for-all health care system. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) proposed H.R. bill 676 to the 115th Congress in January, better known as the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act.
The description of H.R. 676 states, “this bill establishes the Medicare for All Program to provide all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.” This is a very important and necessary step for the United States to catch up with the rest of the industrialized world by providing medicare-for-all.
However, concern arises with this proposed legislation due to Conyers’ profile. Besides Michiganders and politics junkies like myself, people don’t really know who Rep. Conyers is, but the majority of Americans know who Sen. Sanders is. That’s why this news of Sanders wanting to propose a medicare-for-all bill is so important.
Although Sanders did not win the 2016 Democratic Party nomination, his impact on the American people and, to a lesser extent the Democratic Party, cannot be understated. That’s partly why having a medicare-for-all bill with Sanders’ name directly attached to it will create press and buzz around the topic.
As of March 20, 48 percent of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, with 43 percent disapproving; that’s not good enough. Something progressives and conservatives can agree on is the Affordable Care Act does not do enough for Americans when it comes to providing sustainable health care to an uncertain future. The conservative opposition has been well-documented.
In 2010, the Presidency, Senate, and House were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Plenty of legislation passed with flying colors, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was aimed at preventing wage discrimination of female employees, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was aimed to better regulate the banks and people responsible for the 2008-9 housing crisis, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which was aimed to provide federal medical funds to first-responders after the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, all in addition to passing the Affordable Care Act. The outrage sparked by Obamacare and other legislation passed during the 111th Congress resulted in the massive Tea Party movement where the Republicans gained 63 seats, giving the G.O.P. a comfortable majority in the House due to capitalizing on a high conservative voter turnout, rejection of the ACA, and the desire for lower taxes throughout the nation.
Over time, the growth and demise of the Tea Party movement from 2010-16 eventually led to the rise of Donald Trump and to him being elected as President with promises of removing and replacing the Affordable Care Act; this came to a halt on Friday with the bill being pulled from Congress. There was a big difference from Trump’s tweet on Friday where he shows pride in a bill which would replace Obamacare and his tweet on Saturday where he shows the closest thing to defeat.
After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017
ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2017
This is where the need for a medicare-for-all health care system is more pressing than ever.
If one were to take a look at how nations which have a medicare-for-all system operate, one would find that they’ve been successful. Take Canada for example. In 1984, the Canadian Parliament passed the Canada Health Act, where it requires all provinces and territories to provide health care services to its residents, every citizen receives health insurance for all medical needs, and that everyone is able to receive health insurance benefits and will not be denied from receiving medical coverage. In addition, a poll showed that 82% of Canadians preferred their health care system when compared to that of the United States. And it isn’t just Canada.
In a 2014 poll, 11 western countries had their healthcare systems ranked and the United Kingdom finished first, with the United States finishing in last. Part of this is the comparison of cost. The average U.K. resident pays about $3,400 per year for health care coverage, compare that to the U.S. where the average cost was about $8,500 per year. A huge difference.
The simple reason why Obamacare should be replaced, but only with a medicare-for-all system, would be due to the dramatic change in costs per year. $5,100 per year makes an immense difference, but the real question is why single-payer health care is so much cheaper than private health care, which is really what Obamacare is with more benefits than completely private health care. It’s almost as if Obamacare is the precursor from the change from completely private health care to single-payer. But this would result in a tax increase.
Well, taxes are expected to decrease during the Trump administration, as the plan proposes that no one will have to pay more than 25 percent in taxes for the highest earners. It would be easy to increase the tax percentage for the top earners as it would provide the means necessary for creating both affordable health care and one that is universal.
In fact, it has been proving that increasing taxes for the top one percent of Americans will do immense good for the rest of the nation as far as wages go and would above all else make medicare-for-all more than just a liberal pipe dream.
As with Obamacare, it will take some time for medicare-for-all to work, but once it does, it will vastly improve the health for all of our citizens and will allow the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world to be able to insure all of its people, something Obamacare has improved but not fully accomplished.
How will this be done?
Call your representative; call your senators; discuss how important this issue is to benefiting the future of this nation and why the United States needs this now more than ever.