By Jack Bernard
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 21, 2017
Let’s play a game of guess “who said”:
• On CNN in 1999: “If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over…I believe in universal healthcare.”
• About the Australian system similar to Medicare for all: “We have failing health care — I shouldn’t say this to my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do.”
• On MSNBC in response to the question: “Are you for single-payer health care?” Answer: “It actually works incredibly well in Scotland. Some people think it really works in Canada.”
• And again in 2015: “As far as single-payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland.”
Do you think Bernie Sanders said this socialist left-wing dribble? Or, were these quotes by Elizabeth Warren, that Massachusetts pinko?
Sorry, that was a trick question, and Sanders and Warren are great, patriotic Americans. These are quotes from none other than our own reborn, billionaire man of the people, Donald Trump!
But, he also said about single-payer: “It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.” In other words, a different time back when politicians like JFK and LBJ had the guts to go up against the insurance industry and Big Pharma to enact Medicare for seniors!
And, there you have the real reason that both Trump and Obama shied away from introducing legislation to really solve the cost and access crisis in America. And, do not believe those who say Medicare for All will “bankrupt” America (per the “new” Trump last Wednesday). They are wrong.
Per the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), per capita cost in single-payer Canada is $4,728; in Israel it is only $2,533. Here, it is $9,364! And our out-of-pocket cost is 50 percent higher as well.
And, don’t believe Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and others on the far right who say we can’t convert to single-payer due to access and quality problems. The Commonwealth Fund has just issued a report analyzing the health care systems of 11 wealthy nations. We come out last on every measure with the exception of one. There, we are second-to-last.
And, this is not the first time we have come out on the bottom. Last year, Commonwealth Fund issued a report with similar findings. Let’s look at a representative sample of Western nations: Australia, France, Canada, Germany and the U.S.A. All have much less per-capita health care costs and universal coverage.
While 51 percent of Americans report that they can get a same-day appointment with their M.D., the figure was much higher for other countries. For instance, Australia was 67 percent. Only Canada (43 percent) is worse than the U.S.
In ease of obtaining care after-hours, 51 percent of Americans reported being satisfied. Other nations were at 63 percent to 64 percent, except Australia at 44 percent.
But, we fared even worse on one measure, financial barriers to access. An amazing 33 percent of Americans experienced financial difficulties while only 7 percent of Germans did. In fact, no nation had over 17 percent experiencing financial barriers, except the “you are on your own” U.S.A.
The United States is the most religious democracy (Gallup). It is hard to understand how a nation whose population professes to follow Judeo-Christian principles can fail to have health care as a right of citizenship.
This dismal situation represents a stark indictment of the leadership of our nation — both parties. Obamacare has problems and Trumpcare represents a horror show of epic proportions. The “different age” which Trump refers to for single-payer to be enacted starts right now.
He and Congress need to move ASAP to establish a joint Congressional Committee to examine how best to finance the transition into Medicare for All. There is a body of pre-existing work on how this can be accomplished. A good reference point would be the detailed analysis done on this subject by Physicians for A National Health Program (PNHP).
Jack Bernard, the first director of health planning for Georgia, has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.