Why Obama Needed Single Payer on the Table
I don’t doubt that President Obama, a decent man, wants to provide universal health care to all citizens of this country. But his judgment in developing his strategy to reach that goal is profoundly flawed, and, as mentioned above, it may cost him the presidency – an outcome that would be extremely negative for the country. He should have called for a major mobilization against the medical-industrial complex, to ensure that everyone has the same benefits that their representatives in Congress have, broadening and improving Medicare for all. The emphasis of his strategy should have been on improving health benefits coverage for everyone, including those who are currently uncovered. And to achieve this goal – which the majority of the population supports – he should have stressed the need for government to ensure that this extension of benefits to everyone will occur.
That he has not chosen this strategy touches on the essence of U.S. democracy. The enormous power of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries corrupts the nature of our democracy and shapes the frontiers of what is possible in the U.S. Given this reality, it seems to me that the role of the left is to initiate a program of social political agitation and rebellion (I applaud the health professionals who disrupted the meetings of the Senate Finance Committee), following the tactics of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It is wrong to expect and hope that the Obama administration will change. Without pressure and agitation, not much will be done.
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Vicente Navarro, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Health Policy at The Johns Hopkins University and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Health Services. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions with which he is affiliated. Dr Navarro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org