LOS ANGELES — Soon enough, the Republican Party’s seven-year crusade to slay the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will come to an end. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled yet another revision of the GOP’s fraught repeal-and-replace legislation, and the controversial bill will either find the 50 Republican votes it needs to pass the upper chamber of Congress in the next few days — or it will perish once and for all.
DIG A HOLE, NOW FILL IT IN, DIG ANOTHER HOLE, YUP FILL IT IT, BOY WE SURE ARE MAKING PROGRESS IN DIGGING AND FILLING!
That’s the challenge facing Republicans right now. The challenge facing Democrats is how to respond.
Going beyond attacking Republicans over a plan that would take insurance away from tens of millions of Americans — and galvanized by a progressive “resistance” that has yanked the party to the left since Donald Trump was elected president — an increasing number of Democratic elected officials are coalescing around a new health care message in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections: It’s time for single-payer insurance.
WHO PAYS AS THE POPULATION AGES AND GDP IS FURTHER STRESSED? WHAT THEN IS THE ROLE OF THE OLDER CITIZENS IN OUR POPULATION?
|RINO'S AND HEAD PROCTGOLGIST IN FULL RETREAT BUT TO WHERE safe-harbor in the status-quo mentality?|
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate chamber after announcing the revised version of the Republican health care bill. The bill has been in jeopardy because of opposition within the GOP ranks.
“Where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right,” Sanders said in March.
As our (Canadian) population ages and the ratio of working Canadians declines, projected real GDP simply won't continue to grow at the same pace as observed historically. With this reality in mind, it is imperative that Canadians come to terms with the fact that this generational demographic shift will result in steep growth of health care expenditures. One of many examples is the supply of physicians; it will need to increase by at least 46 per cent over the next 25 years just to keep up with increased demand for services by the aged population. And according to this report, without much-needed significant government intervention, we are at risk of losing free health care altogether.For a preview of the road ahead — and the potential pitfalls — there’s no better place to look than California, BUT REALITY IS ONLY ACROSS THE BORDER IN CANADA!
The Golden State has been on the front lines of the single-payer fight for decades now. In Sacramento, Democrats have introduced at least seven single-payer bills since 1992. Two of them passed the legislature — one in 2006 and one in 2008. Both were vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. “Socialized medicine is not the solution to our state’s health care problems,” Schwarzenegger said at the time, invoking his predecessor Ronald Reagan.More imperatively, the government must find new and/or additional sources of funds to support projected expenditure increases. Boosting GDP growth traditionally means raising taxes/fees, cutting government programs/services, or a combination of both. But with an already burdened youth minority, the extent and effectiveness of such measures will need to be carefully calculated.
This time, however, was supposed to be different. In 2011, Democrat Jerry Brown, who argued for a single-payer system during his 1992 presidential campaign, succeeded Schwarzenegger as governor. Five years later:
- Democrats won supermajorities in both houses of the California legislature.
- And earlier this year, two state senators introduced another bill (SB 562) designed to wipe out California’s private insurance market and create a single-payer system.
And yet, after SB 562 passed the more progressive state Senate, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (who insists he supports single-payer) abruptly intervened in late June and shelved the bill for the remainder of the 2017 session.
“SB 562 was sent to the Assembly woefully incomplete,” Rendon snapped. “Even senators who voted for SB 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues:
- such as financing,
- delivery of care, cost controls,
- or the realities of needed action by the Trump Administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.”
“Where do you get the extra money?” Brown told reporters. “You take a problem and say I’m going to solve it by something that’s even a bigger problem, which makes no sense.”Progressive activists were furious. Rendon and his family received death threats. Outside the speaker’s Capitol office, one protester pretended to stab a bear in the back with a fake knife; the blade had “Rendon” written on it. With public opinion turning, Republicans floundering in Washington, and Democrats firmly in control of both the governor’s mansion and the legislature, activists wondered why squander a perfect opportunity to make the left’s single-payer dream a reality? Why chicken out now?
It’s an important question — and a revealing one for progressives who hope that single-payer will finally go national in the wake of the GOP’s war against Obamacare. What will the role of the elderly be in society as they demand more and more health-care? Where and on whom does the burden fall, and why?
Moreover, while our attitudes regarding health care policy needs to shift, perhaps it is also time to rethink the place and role of senior citizens in our society. The cult of youth, self-reliance, and independence means old age is more miserable than ever before. While our elderly used to hold a central place in society and family dynamics, they are now relegated to retirement facilities. What then, is the value of elders in our society? Not much, if we consider the staggering rates of senior isolation and depression. And with the impending burden they will soon represent, it is easy to see how this situation is bound to worsen with time.
Both rationales should trouble Democrats who want their party to run on — and eventually implement — a nationwide single-payer system.
The “blame the bill” explanation is complicated, having to do in part with the peculiarities of California’s legislative process, which is constrained in complex ways by ballot initiatives such as one requiring that a set percentage of the budget be devoted to education. But the basic gist is that SB 562 was a mere “shell” of a bill that failed to address many of the major challenges facing such a massive insurance overhaul — see Rendon, above — and that this was a strategic misstep by its major union backer, the California Nurses Association.
“Last decade’s single payer bill … included measures for cost control, patient advocacy, regional planning, quality of care, global budgeting, delivery system improvements, build-out of service networks, incentive payments to recruit health personnel, transition costs, statewide databasing, dispute resolution, fraud prevention, a formulary for prescription drugs, and a lot more,” writes the Intercept’s David Dayen. “It was a serious bill that set real guidelines. … It thought of almost everything. SB 562 kicks nearly all of these questions” down the road.WHITE COLLAR WORKERS HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE ... SO GOES THEIR FUNDING REVENUE STREAM AND ALONG COMES INCREASE DEMANDS WITH THEIR HEALTHCARE!
As a result, Democrats disinclined to shoulder the political risks of transforming California’s entire health insurance system — such as the state’s most powerful Democrat, Gov. Brown — could easily dismiss SB 562 as an unfunded, underbaked pipe dream (even though studies have suggested it would be financially viable.)
FUNDING THEIR FUTURE ...
So why should both of these competing explanations unsettle national single-payer proponents?
Because both of them vividly illustrate how much intraparty resistance single-payer would generate even if Democrats were to win back Congress in 2018 and the presidency in 2020 (which is a big if). National Democrats — especially those from swing districts — are even more risk-averse than their counterparts in deep-blue California, and many of them would be similarly inclined to avoid voting on a measure that opponents could caricature as a budget-busting foray into “socialized medicine.” National Democrats also receive a lot of money from the health industry — $69 million in 2016 alone. If Democrats can’t pass single-payer in Sacramento, there’s little chance they could pass it in Washington, D.C.
Not that this will prevent more and more Dems from running on single-payer in the coming elections. After all, that’s what Democrats have been doing in California for decades now. In fact, if the party does win back Congress in 2018, legislators may even send a single-payer bill to Donald Trump’s desk, just as California Democrats did with Schwarzenegger. What the state’s latest single-payer skirmish shows, however, is that the calculus changes when it’s a Democrat who would have to sign such a bill into law. Single-payer proponents might dream of what’s possible under a unified Democratic government. But so far, at least, California has provided a disappointing answer: not much.