Health Care Now Nashville
By Warren Duzak
Susan McCay’s article “Perfect Never Comes” (in the Nashville Free Press) last month suggests that demanding a Single-Payer health care system like Medicare for all Americans is utopian pie-in-the-sky. We must instead, she warns, accept the crumps that are offered.
“The choice is quite simple: do nothing and wait for a perfect that will never come, or support imperfect reform,” McCay wrote.
I would point out to McCay that those are not the choices. Health care activists, including Physicans for a National Health Program, battling for Single Payer are doing quite a lot as they fight for a system that has worked very well in Canada and most European counties. “Perfect,” which McCay predicts “will never come” seems to have arrived there.
Even if a Single Payer system here were created there would be anything but perfection. The medical system would still have problems moving in the direction of preventive medicine. The old method of creating doctors emerging from years of training with huge debt and a desire to make lots and lots of money would remain and eventually need to be addressed. But as Medicare has proven, the Single-Payer system works and works well.
As for Utopian, McCay and company are the ones out of touch with reality if they believe we can work with the profit-hungry insurance companies to create “affordable health insurance”.
Instead of pushing from the Left and demanding Single Payer for All, the reformists try to adapt to the twist and turns of the Democratic Party. They lobby and try to appear reasonable as they go time and time again, hat-in-hand, to the rich and powerful. It is the same strategy that was tried and failed in the fight over TennCare. Every defeat was followed by more concessions. Who can forget those sad lines of health care activists at Legislative Plaza chanting Bible versues as “Amazing Grace” echoed from the boom box, all the while Phil Bredesen and the State Legislature driving nail after nail into TenneCare’s coffin.
The fight for health care for all should become the mass movement its potential suggests. But like all mass movements there must be central demands or even one demand that is non-negoitable.
I would ask McCay if the Civil Rights struggle asked for front-of-the-bus privileges or lunch counter service just on Tuesday and Thursdays?
Did the Women’s Suffrage Movement ask just for voting rights in municipal or state elections, believing that voting in federal elections would be too close to perfect?
Did the fight for the 8-hour day settle for 10 hours?
Did the Anti-War movement of the 1960’s and 70’s ask for withdrawal from Vietnam at some time in the future? Was “Out Now!” just too perfect.
I don’t think so.
There is so much pressure on the reformist and they have moved so far to the right that McCay appears comfortable with lines like “Our health care system has become a national security threat, with it’s ever-increasing costs continuing to spiral…..”
Admittedly health care costs are going up, but if the society can spent $50 billion a year on pet care and fill places like Cool Springs and Green Hill Mall with an endless variety of consumer good, we are hardly in danger of going bankrupt. If a society can allocate resources for dialysis for dogs, teeth-cleaning for cats and animal day-care and hospices, the resources are there to provide for our health care.
The trick is to build a mass movement to demand it. But first you must get rid of the idea that a Single Payer system is demanding perfection.