Maybe you truly believe that Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders's introduction of the new Medicare for All Act is perfectly timed and will generate the popular groundswell necessary to get it passed over the objection of Big Med and Big Pharma. Maybe you also believe that it will become the single "litmus-test" issue for candidates in 2018, especially in Democratic primaries. Maybe you believe neither of those, and that's OK too.
For me, as long as I've been paying attention to the issues, health care reform has taken a reluctant back seat to (1) anti-war/pro-peace, and (2) environmental matters such as climate change. Both (1) and (2) not only deal with the survival of life and civilization on this planet, but are also absurdly multi-faceted and loaded with ramifications. But I have been a proponent of a national single-payer health care system since high school, when the nationwide debate topic of comprehensive medical care.
BIG UPDATE: Within minutes of my publishing this post, the Scott McLarty sent out this GPUS press release on the topic. So as a party, we're officially excited by this development.
Forty years later, I'm still on the single-payer train, and I find Flowers's optimism infectious. She insists on using phrases like "when this passes," rather than "if...." Having met the good doctor, I can attest that she is not the kind of wonktivist to take on an unrealistic initiative. If single-payer and government-brokered health systems weren't already working for other nations, she would not be aiming so high. And this is a lofty goal, considering who is currently infesting the Oval Office.
Speaking of Trump...
Yes, let's get this out of the way. Flowers does cite the Trumpster's past admiration for single-payer systems in Canada and Australia. Just because he admires those systems, and just because he's notoriously unpredictable, doesn't add up to his signing Medicare for All when it passes Congress. In these past eight months, Emperor Pumpkinator has demonstrated that his primary aim is fucking shit up. And he's good at it. Even if he knows that all the good things we say about Medicare for All are correct, when it reaches his desk, he will veto it. Why? Because he can, regardless of how many deaths may result.
And that number of deaths is already too high, irrespective of which report you believe on premature deaths due to lack of insurance. Opponents of single-payer try to tell us that it would just make that number higher, although their strongest evidence is "My grandma in Canada had to wait six weeks for an appendectomy!" And, as high school debaters from my era know, there's always the ultimate disadvantage: socialized medicine will lead to THERMONUCLEAR WAR!!!
Not even Flowers would try to tell you that national health programs currently in place elsewhere are flawless in their design and implementation. But she has studied the matter extensively, and can tell you all the ways they save lives, cost less, and wipe out medical bankruptcy (the largest category of bankruptcy in the US).
Reasons for Optimism
Flowers is excited in part because 15 US senators—not all of them reliable progressives—have attached their names to Sanders's bill as co-sponsors. This group includes Cory Booker (D-GlaxoSmithKline), recently hammered by progressives for voting against a Sanders measure on prescription drug prices. She envisions a certain amount of peer pressure at work in Congress, especially as legislators hear from their constituents how much they want this bill passed.
And therein lies the key. These legislators not already on-board will not support Bernie's bill out of the goodness of their diamond-encrusted hearts. The people need to speak louder than the corporate donors. They need to remember, and actualize, how democracy means more than voting. People who have never been politically active before will need to get off their butts and get in their elected officials' faces.
Yes, you can and should call or email your Congresscritters, even if you know for certain that they oppose this measure. I don't expect Ted Cruz or John Cornyn to be converted on this issue, and I'm not even sure about my rep Sheila Jackson-Lee, but it is important that they know where the people stand, and how important this is to their human constituency.
But you're better off connecting with a group like Health Care For All Texas or Physicians for a National Health Program. Connect with them via your money and your time. If you live in one of the bigger cities in Texas, get to an HCFAT meeting to find out everything you can, including how to counter conservative talking points and which legislators might be willing to support an enhanced Medicare for All program.
And I'm not just preaching about what you should do. I plan to get active on this front myself. Stay tuned.
The Part I Forgot to Add Earlier
Oh yeah, as Flowers advises, when you connect with your local advocacy group, don't be put off by other members' partisan affiliations. If you're Green, mostly because you find some aspects of the Democratic Party appalling, don't be appalled that the group consists mostly of Democrats.
Also, don't be surprised if you find some folks there who vote Republican (unlikely, but possible). That's the nature of true conservatism: Be cautious about implementing new policies, but when those policy prescriptions prove correct, support them and move on. Plenty of Republicans support Medicare after its 50 years of success; if they think about it, they will also support Medicare for All.
By the same token, my own advice for Greens is, don't let Democrats try to exert any partisan pressure on you. Nobody should be there to push a partisan agenda. The Democrats do not own this issue. Be candid about your own affiliation, but don't try to evangelize anyone. If the discussion turns in the direction of political parties, call time out, and politely but forcefully tell the others to get off that particular track.