I had not heard from my friend P for a few weeks. She is a local activist with a seemingly non-activist pedigree. I am not even sure what her stance is on Medicare for All.
I knew the doctors diagnosed P's husband with cancer. But his prognosis was excellent. She had continued working her local pages and kept up with her activism work. But then, suddenly, she sent out a note stating that she needed to turn over her political pages to a new caretaker. A local political operative saw the notice.
"Egberto, did you know that P is backing down?" he asked.
"No, but I will contact her right away," I replied. "We can't lose her in this movement."
This morning we met at my local Starbucks, where many in the community keep a conversation going on our body politic with people of every stripe, ideology, and socioeconomic background. She said she had been sick herself, adding to the difficulties caused by her husband's illness.
And then she said something that made my blood boil. They had diagnosed her husband with bladder cancer, a very curable cancer, especially when caught early, which his was. The doctors had recommended a therapy that did not include the removal of his bladder, which would have forced him into using an external bladder permanently.
A private insurance company wanted him to have his bladder removed. P and her husband had to fight with the insurance company for two months before his needed treatment could begin. That meant two additional months of cancer growth because of the pathetic, immoral, unethical, and pilfering nature of our healthcare system. Her husband ultimately prevailed.
It is easy to refute the false attacks on Medicare for All from those who promote a private healthcare system, given P's experience. They claim excessive wait times, rationing, government control, and more. Well, my friend waited for an excessive amount of time for treatment of a time-sensitive illness. This U.S. healthcare reality does not occur in countries with universal health care and socialized health systems such as the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Attempting to force a purportedly less expensive but poor quality-of-life option is a form of rationing. And having to beg the insurance company to consent to the doctor's recommended treatment is a loss of patient and doctor control.
As we fight for Medicare for All at home, Donald Trump went over to the United Kingdom and told its citizens that U.S. corporate access to the NHS had to be on the table in any trade negotiations. It created a stir in most of the country. The British have no interest in the privatization of their healthcare system. Even as their system is getting more expensive due to an aging population, it is still much cheaper than ours. And their outcomes are better than ours. The pilfering extractive private insurance companies would love to deceive the British people into providing a new cash source with false promises and mathematical impossibilities, supposed better service for less money dedicated to health care as shareholders get dividends and profits. How well is that model working the U.S.?
Medicare for All is going to be a fight. Three sides are bombarding us with fallacies: the Republican leadership; the Democratic establishment; and the health care industry lobbyists, including the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future. One expects the misinformation from the Right and their lobbyists. It is unforgivable for any Democratic candidate to use the Right’s misleading talking points to instill unwarranted fear in the American psyche.
It is true that 180 million Americans will lose their private profit-before-health-care insurance. It is true that taxes will go up for most to cover Medicare for All. Americans are smart. They are capable of hearing the truth. There is no doubt that they are capable of doing math. We do not need to lie or mislead. The math is not complicated. Everyone who has an income will be in the game, unlike now, when many subsidize both the indigent and the irresponsible. Likewise, taxes will be income-based, based on what one can afford. It is progressive taxation. Most importantly, because there will be no premiums and virtually no co-pays, in the end, most will have more money in their pockets, including doctors, who will no longer have to fight with insurance companies that are attempting to stiff them.
Medicare for All is just the beginning. Americans must recover what the drug companies have pilfered as well. You, the taxpayer, are most often the primary investors in the initial development of drugs. But none of the profits come back to the Treasury. Want to control drug costs, ensure that every price increase results in more money coming into the Treasury? Unbridled pricing power is directly responsible for wealth disparity, as those with pricing power for a product you must have can take all your wealth and credit away.
Too many of our politicians have sold us out. We have accepted it because they have high-priced think tanks that create plausible arguments that support the pilfering. It is time to end it.
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap's story is the kind that we must fight to leave in the past. Just as slavery, with the elite profiting immorally from the work and bodies of others, was evil, so is our healthcare system, as it profits from our bodies and our suffering. It rips us off at times that we are unable to choose, when we can’t fight back.
Kaitlin is an ovarian cancer survivor. She had access to reasonably good insurance through her husband’s job. He lost that job, and they are both now without coverage. Recently, she responded emphatically to Democratic primary presidential candidate John Delaney's tweet justifying his attack on Medicare for All.
My life is at stake you asshole. I’m currently not insured because I can’t afford it but I’m an ovarian cancer survivor and am supposed to be getting tests and screenings every 3 months. #MedicareForAll https://t.co/xcDJ1SN94T— Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap 🦡 (@kaitlin_sb) June 4, 2019
What Kaitlin is living through is but a hypothetical to many of these candidates who are on the dole either from us or, who knows, future kickbacks for allowing the continuance of a corrupt system? Kaitlin's story in her own words is piercing, not only for every woman, but for anyone who has experienced the pilfering nature of our healthcare system. My wife’s and my own healthcare stories, and those of so many others, follow this pattern. The health-industrial complex is using its pricing power to legally rob us.
The most efficient method of payment for health care is a single-payer Medicare-for-All system. That is a mathematical certainty. The purpose of any deviation from that system is to make a profit where no profit should be made. Our economy is large enough to provide earnings in legitimate areas of business and commerce. Profiting off of the misery and illness of others requires an indoctrination that we would do well to eliminate sooner rather than later. Bankruptcy, poor quality of life, the inability to accumulate wealth, and, ultimately, death are the outcomes of our current corrupt system. Wake up, and help others do the same.