Strong points, unanswered questions: In yesterday's New York Times, Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed column introducing his Medicare for all proposal.
We thought he made some excellent points. We were struck by some unanswered questions.
Sanders started as shown below. And yes, he named some actual names in the highlighted passage about the massive looting which defines our health care system:
SANDERS (9/13/17): This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?Sanders named four miscreants, double the normal number. For future discussion, this recent post by Kevin Drum throws in several more.
We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.
Before too long, Sanders mentioned a widely-disappeared group, The USA 9400. We'll make a few points about this:
SANDERS: Even though 28 million Americans remain uninsured and even more are underinsured, we spend far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In 2015, the United States spent almost $10,000 per person for health care; the Canadians, Germans, French and British spent less than half of that, while guaranteeing health care to everyone. Further, these countries have higher life expectancy rates and lower infant mortality rates than we do.In that passage, Sanders engages in some basic blocking and tackling. For the record, these are the more precise OECD figures to which his passage refers:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015You'll note that Germany didn't spend less than half as much as we did. Acknowledging that minor apparent blip, we'll offer these award-winning questions:
United States: $9451
United Kingdom: $4003
Why have you never seen those numbers on the front page of the New York Times? Why have you never seen those numbers discussed by the major stars on MSNBC, our "corporate liberal" channel?
Sanders is starting a real discussion about a hugely important topic. That real discussion has never occurred because players like the Post, the Times and our corporate TV stars have always seemed to agree that it mustn't occur.
Last point—can you spot the possible semi-contradiction in this passage?
SANDERS: The reason that our health care system is so outrageously expensive is that it is not designed to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way, but to provide huge profits to the medical-industrial complex. Layers of bureaucracy associated with the administration of hundreds of individual and complicated insurance plans is stunningly wasteful, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars a year. As the only major country not to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, we spend tens of billions more than we should.Sanders praises the cost-effectiveness of Medicare. One paragraph earlier, he cites our failure to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical cabal.
The solution to this crisis is not hard to understand. A half-century ago, the United States established Medicare. Guaranteeing comprehensive health benefits to Americans over 65 has proved to be enormously successful, cost-effective and popular. Now is the time to expand and improve Medicare to cover all Americans.
As everyone knows, Medicare is one principal place where we have failed to do that! Now for a question:
Have you ever seen data for American health care spending on people over 65, versus comparable spending in a nation like France? We've never seen that either!
We would assume that our Medicare program vastly overspends too, as compared to everyone else. Why has the pandering corporate clown Rachel Maddow never discussed such a topic?
Our health care system is defined by systematic looting. The Post, the Times, MSNBC all seem to like it that way.
That leads us to our final questions:
How much do players like Maddow get paid? Why do you think you aren't told?