A SINGLE THAT MIGHT BE A HOME RUN


1. It’s Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

2. It’s the 154th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. That’s the Civil War battle in which the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first all African-American regiment in the Union Army, led the ill-fated charge.

It’s depicted in the film “Glory,” an excellent example of how a good movie can change the way history is viewed. Before it, few people knew the regiment’s story. Now, lots of people do – although they probably believe the people involved looked like Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick.

3. I wouldn’t put it past Mitch McConnell to get a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act passed in the Senate. He’s just spiteful enough – after the collapse of his party’s version for a replacement – to do it.

But if that happens, it would be political suicide for the Republicans.

Not only would they not have come up with something better, they will have taken away the things that people really love about Obamacare – essential health provisions, no pre-existing conditions and insuring kids until they’re 26.

Oh, and premiums would spike.

That is a formula for a health care disaster. I can’t believe even Trump and McConnell are stupid enough to let that happen.

But who knows?

4. If the straight repeal fails, the last thing Democrats should do is a victory lap. In fact, now it’s time to go to work.

It’s in the interest of the party and the nation that there be some sort of push to improve Obamacare. To work out some of the bugs and to push expanded coverage so that even fewer people are insured.

Many people believe the solution is a single-payer option.

I am 20 months and 15 days away from the single-payer option. Mine will be called Medicare.

What some, led by Bernie Sanders, want is the idea of Medicare for all. You’ve been paying for it most of your life – see your pay stub for those Medicare deductions. At age 65, you collect on it.

The advantage is obvious. This is no longer something I have to think about. It’s something my wife no longer has to think about, since we get our health insurance through her job.

If the nation extended Medicare to everyone, the way to pay for it seems to be through higher taxes. But the efficiencies of scale created would end up making health care cost less overall.

That sounds easy. It’s not.

In one of the Democratic debates, I think it was in late 2015, I heard Sanders make the point that while people would pay more in taxes, they’d pay less overall.

If he had been the nominee, the first half of that would have been the Republican soundbite. No one would have ever heard the second half.

There are, in fact, people would rather pay more for health care overall than pay less for it if it includes higher taxes. The instilled antipathy toward the idea that government should do anything – even though Social Security and Medicare are revered by their recipients – would make single payer a tough slog.

So the challenge for those who support the idea is to figure out a way to get it in the least objectionable way. It needs to find the path that incurs the least resistance from insurers and one that, in all likelihood, doesn’t raise taxes.

I’m not smart enough to figure that out. I’m hoping there’s someone who is.

It’s still not a bad idea for Democrats to float the idea that they are open to improving the health care system. The Republicans have taken a hit – they had seven years to come up with something better than Obamacare and they failed. Miserably.

Now, Democrats have to show they’re serious about addressing the biggest problem most households face. They did a good job – a better one than even they were willing to take credit for – in Obamacare.

They have to keep going. It’s time to see if single-payer is the home run that many Democrats believe it is. Thinking about it seriously is a noble purpose.

 

 

 

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