Essay: Medicare for All – Improved and Expanded Universal Single Payer Health Care
April 30, 2010
by Bev Alves
Universal single payer health care is a not-for-profit health care system that would provide equality of opportunity for all people living in the United States. It would ensure that all of us would be given an equal chance to get treatment, to heal and survive. Equality of opportunity is the foundation of our American democracy. Medical equality for all would be in accord with, and reinforce, the principles and ideals of our nation.
When Thomas Jefferson, wrote the immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, he and his fellow co signers of our most noble and venerable Declaration of Independence were stating that all people have the right to equality under the law. Our Declaration of Independence was a call to liberate us from the tyranny and oppression of a ruling power that had no regard for the people they ruled.
It is impossible to secure equal rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” without providing equality of medical care. Healthcare is a basic human need and right!
Now more than two centuries after our nation’s sacred documents, our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were drafted, we are again besieged by oppression. The discrimination created by our current hodgepodge healthcare non system is creating an injustice which is equivalent to the inequity created by the violation of our original rights. The control of healthcare by private insurers, who decide who, when and what gets covered, is no less a serious threat to life and liberty than the despotism against which our Founders fought so fiercely. (Just ask the 45,000 Americans who will die needlessly each year because of a lack of healthcare. Just ask their family members who must survive without them.)
As a student of history, I believe that if the medical advances which have been made during the last 200 plus years were in existence in their time, our Founders would have included an Amendment to our Constitution ensuring that all the people of our great nation receive medical equality under the law. At the time that our Constitution was drafted, the only difference in medical treatment between those of wealth and those without, was that the wealthy slept on featherbeds while the poor slept on straw mats. In their time, medical treatment was the same for everyone. Today, in order to ensure equality of care, there needs to be a law.
Universal single payer healthcare is very much in line with our American values. It is the American Way! People are yearning for this sense of patriotism and connection to the ideals of our democracy. Universal single payer healthcare would establish justice, help insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty, provide for a common defense (especially against illness and disease), and most certainly, create a more perfect union, as our Constitution does ordain. It is in agreement with the basic tenets of our nation.
Universal Single Payer healthcare would also fulfill our sacred spiritual obligation as well. Most of us have been taught, from the time we were children, “Love thy neighbor as you would love thyself.” It’s the Law of Reciprocity, better known as The Golden Rule. This principle to “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” is the core belief of nearly every religion and ethical system in the world. People need to be reminded that to be spiritually whole, they are obliged to take care of their neighbor. (They need to remember that someday things could be reversed. Someday their neighbor might have to take care of them. We need a system in place that would do that.) Employment of universal Single Payer healthcare would help us as a nation to attain this spiritual goal.
To those people who do not understand these messages, we must ask, What would you do if someone you loved, a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling or perhaps you yourself, were given a life threatening diagnosis and didn’t have health insurance? What would You do?
Single Payer healthcare would:
• Reduce waste and cut costs (the overhead for Medicare is 3%. It is 30% with private insurance companies.)
• Provide free choice of providers and hospitals anywhere in the U.S.
• Cover preventative care, dental, vision, mental health and palliative care
• Allow doctors and patients to be in control of the best decisions for the patient, not medically untrained clerks who are paid to deny the decisions of health care professionals (which is outrageous!)
• Guarantee that no one could be denied coverage for a pre existing condition, something which is an absolute disgrace!
• Be portable.
• Cover everyone. Everybody in, nobody out!
• allow public oversight to insure the system is operating efficiently, and by providing uniform benefits for all, it would enable us to live up to the ideals of our American democracy.
In short, Universal Single Payer Healthcare would be a win/win program for patients, taxpayers and the government alike. It would be the right civic, moral, social, spiritual and economic thing to do.