Single payer is doable

January 01, 2015

Rutland Herald: Beyond the accusations, rationalizations and gloating, the derailed progress toward universal, publicly funded health care is a tragedy for Vermont and for the rest of the country which might have followed our example as it often has.

Yes, the funding is very complicated. But with strong enough commitment, dedicated minds can find a way. Single payer’s goal is good, affordable health care for everyone, regardless of income or employment: like Medicare for all. Underlying this objective is affirmation of health care as a human right, not a consumer commodity, which means elimination of private insurance companies as medical dictators and of their profits as drivers of medical decisions and health care access.

We face a clear choice, which most other modern democracies made long ago. In those countries no one goes bankrupt because of illness, as frequently happens here, and no one is denied care for lack of insurance.

Naturally, single payer is anathema to the insurance companies and their allies, including the Republican Party and right-wing institutions such as the Ethan Allen Institute and others of that ilk. They did their best to confuse single payer with “Obamacare,” which is just another form of insurance-controlled health care with restrictions on a few of the most egregious insurance abuses. The problematic computer launch was predictable, given the complexity of plans, subsidies and network restrictions, and not limited to Vermont. As was also predictable, Obamacare has helped some, left others worse off than before, and excluded millions of the neediest.

Single-payer supporters are accused of naiveté, detachment from reality and repetition of the same message. But the repeated message is the simple truth. If we demand that our legislators and governor make single payer work they will do it. Magic is not required — only serious human determination. We’ve come so far. We can’t give up now.

JUDY and MICHAEL OLINICK

Middlebury