Bernie Sanders’s call for a single-payer Medicare-for-all system has brought forth the wrath of finance capital and a flood of misinformation. In order to derail his presidential campaign and scuttle the growing demand for real healthcare reform, the Wall Street Journal recently tried to slander him with the “charge” that such a plan would cost $15 trillion over ten years. Guilty as charged, but that would lead us to “save nearly $5 trillion over ten years in reduced administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and by lowering the rate of medical inflation,” according to economist Gerald Friedman.
This misuse of facts underscores the imperative need for an independent mass movement which would not only explain what is meant by single payer, but which would also contrast it to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), written by insurance industry lobbyists and representatives of other price gougers in health care. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer is the embodiment of such a movement, working in conjunction with its allies.
Under the current system, hundreds of billions of dollars meant for the care of patients are siphoned off as profits for the big health care insurance companies—money that would be saved by their elimination from the system. This money could be used to ensure quality and comprehensive coverage for all residents.
Both the Clinton and Obama administrations rejected single payer as the essential replacement of the market system, which is based on leaving it to individuals to take care of their own healthcare needs. But at its two previous conventions, the AFL-CIO unanimously endorsed single payer as a replacement of that system.
The Democratic Party in the main is steadfast in support of the ACA. Obama touts it as his legacy. Yet with each passing day, its flaws become more and more evident: rising premiums (which are scheduled to spike big time in 2016), rising deductibles, rising co-pays, rising numbers of people still without coverage, exclusion of undocumented immigrants, bloated and wasteful administrative costs, growing problems in collective bargaining in negotiating good benefits programs, etc.
The October 30–November 1 National Single Payer Strategy Conference in Chicago can mark a huge step forward in forging unity of single payer health care forces. We urge unions to send representatives to what is shaping up to be an historic event. Health Care Justice is long overdue and the Chicago gathering can spark added impetus to make it a reality. For more information on the Chicago conference, click here.