Battlepanda: Who's with Kevin?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Who's with Kevin?

The Drumstir lays it out for y'all to play it out:
So how about it, blogosphere? It's great that we endorse good candidates and help get them funding, but how about also making a difference in the policy arena and insisting that candidates publicly endorse universal healthcare if they want our help in the future? After all, not only is it a big, meaty, progressive goal, but it's one that we all agree on, not one that we fight over. We don't have to pick any particular plan, and we shouldn't expect anyone to commit electoral suicide over it. But we should at least insist that anyone who wants our help has to support simple, genuine, full-blown universal healthcare as a goal — and that they do it publicly. That's how Grover Norquist turned the Republican Party into the "Tax Cuts Forever" Party, and it worked pretty well.

[from a later post] My guess is that we're a minimum of ten years away from single-payer UHC, and to get there we need to shift public opinion. Here's the argument in favor of focusing on that:
  • Single-payer is a simple plan that can be explained in short, compelling phrases. If you lose your job, you still have healthcare. If you're poor, you have healthcare. If you get a new job, your preexisting conditions continue to be covered. No matter what, you always have access to high-quality healthcare from the doctor of your choice.

  • It's good policy. Single-payer UHC is the only solution that gets rid of America's bizarre and accidental (and wildly inefficient and expensive) hodgepodge of private insurance, employer insurance, government subsidies, inner city clinics, and overworked emergency rooms. Single-payer is simple, and experience around the world shows that it works, it saves huge amounts of money, and it reins in skyrocketing costs.

  • It gives Democrats a branding tool. Democrats, for example, are already clearly viewed as the pro-choice party, but in the healthcare arena they're viewed as being vaguely in favor of "more," but not much else. Single payer gives us something to stand up for.

  • The political landscape is slowly moving in our favor. Big corporations are tired of healthcare and are increasingly receptive to the idea of offloading their problem to the government. Funding alternatives like VATs could reduce opposition from small businesses, who are afraid of proposals that would raise their costs drastically and disproportionately. Insurance companies will fight against this like crazed lemmings, of course, but there's not much we can do about that. No proposal is ever going to have the support of everyone.

  • It's possible to win this battle. From a public opinion standpoint, our biggest obstacle is fear. As soon as you open your mouth about UHC, conservatives start screeching about waiting times for hip replacements in Canada or the number of MRI machines in Belgium, and everyone suddenly starts wondering if the solution is worse than the problem. But we have reality on our side: good single-payer systems (France, Sweden, Germany — not Canada, Britain, or Italy) work great and people love them. If we can introduce the public to real world examples of how well those systems work, we can gradually overcome their fear of the unknown. This is probably the single biggest thing we can do to persuade people that single-payer healthcare is not the bogeyman the right makes it out to be.

But here's the thing: none of this will happen if Democratic politicians are afraid to fight for it. We don't have to give up incrementalism in the meantime, but we do need to make it absolutely clear what goal we're working toward. It's good politics, good policy, and good branding. But it's a long fight, and the sooner we get back in the saddle and start fighting it, the better.

I don't think there's anything I can add to that. But in other healthcare news, both Ezra and Kate slams the TV series (which I have not seen) "The Miracle Worker", which profiles a couple of families every episode in dire medical need and gives them the best care money can buy. They rightly point out that the series doesn't address the larger issues over healthcare and their ratings driven criteria of who's TV-worthy enough to deserve their help kind of undercuts the point that all families in America deserve decent healthcare. But I still think that any exposure this issue gets gotta end up as a net positive. Kind of reminds me of those Dove commercials featuring non-stick-thin women -- still problematic on many levels, but I still have to grudgingly give Dove some props just for putting it out there.