The United States is at another crisis point when it comes to health care. The recession and COVID-19 pandemic are exposing the flaws in the current system – tens of millions more people have lost their health insurance, even people who have health insurance can’t afford health care, health disparities are widening and healthcare workers are not being protected.
The Biden administration has made it clear that it will reject the best solution to the crises, national improved Medicare for all, even though that is what the majority of the population supports. Instead, Joe Biden plans to tweak the so-called Affordable Care Act, a law that did not solve the underlying problem with a healthcare system that it is designed to make profits for a few and not provide health care to everyone.
The Biden healthcare plan is promoting the idea of a public option, just as was done in 2009 during the health reform process. A public option just adds another insurance plan to the already complicated mess of plans. It will not create the healthcare savings we need to cover everyone. And in 2009, the public option was used to trick people into supporting it rather than Medicare for all even though the public option was never meant to be in the final healthcare bill. Biden is also talking about providing tax credits for people to purchase health insurance even though these have failed in the past. And he is talking about reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals for people who have Medicare.
None of these tweaks will lead to what we need – a universal healthcare system that guarantees everyone will have their health needs met without any financial barriers. At a minimum, we must begin with national improved Medicare for all so that every person in the United States will be in the same system that is publicly funded up front. Medicare for all must provide coverage for all medical necessities including long term care.
From there, we can build out a fully public healthcare system that will provide the health security and infrastructure we need, especially in a time of a pandemic. Community control over the healthcare system will make it more equitable and reduce health disparities. Our final goal is a fully-resourced and comprehensive healthcare system that meets everyone’s needs.
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