By Jim Kahn, M.D., M.P.H.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the airborne terrorist attacks on the NYC Twin Towers and other US targets. The terrible events of that day brought our country together in sympathy and support for the hurt and the families of the deceased. A new era of American solidarity seemed to be born. But this sentiment was squandered with an ill-conceived pair of wars, one of them duplicitously justified and both of them ineptly managed. The spirit of vicious partisanship accelerated by Newt Gingrich during the Clinton years regained traction. Unity devolved into division, and today we struggle to hold together our democracy.
In 2021, single payer offers hope of enduring cohesion. Individuals across the political spectrum greatly value social security and Medicare, and would greatly value government financing of comprehensive medical care. Social solidarity would jump. Single payer represents a return to the liberal consensus on the role of government forged under FDR and vigorously accepted by Republicans through Eisenhower and substantially into the 1970s. I have no illusions about the political barriers to enacting single payer, with moneyed interests aligned to oppose the shift to a non-profit oriented equitable health insurance system. Health care justice in the form of single payer is aspirational, for the moment. But what better aspiration could there be?
(Thanks to John Roark for US history discussion)