Friday, July 25, 2014

qotd: Kshama Sawant on single payer (Seattle)
July 23, 2014

Glimmers of healthcare politics at meeting of Western Washington docs

Tough talk from Kshama Sawant and others at annual gathering of Western
Washington Physicians for a National Health Program.

By Ted Van Dyk

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant also was critical of
Obamacare, arguing that the administration colluded with drug and
insurance companies in framing it. Sawant spoke longest and most avidly
at the meeting. She called on committed single-payer supporters to
follow the example of those who sought a $15 minimum wage in Seattle,
and bring tireless pressure to bear on Democratic officeholders in
particular. Sawant is a committed socialist who often referred to
"working class interests" and "corrupt corporations, banks, and hedge
fund operators."

Kshama Sawant (video at 4:45):

"Our discussion should be formulated not on the basis of whether or not
the ACA delivered something good. Maybe it did, but that's not the
point. The point is, what are we not getting from it, and why didn't we
win single payer health care? That's what I would like to focus on."


Comment by Don McCanne

Socialist Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, came to
national attention by leading her fellow council members in passing a
$15/hour minimum wage for their city. Having shown that political
activism can still be effective, she has important advice for us in our
efforts to enact single payer reform.

Currently attention has been diverted from single payer, as most
progressives are celebrating the supposedly great successes in
implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even the Republicans in
Congress who have voted several times to repeal ACA, are now suing
President Obama for not implementing it fast enough.

Those of us who continue to adamantly support single payer are facing
criticism for not joining the ACA bandwagon. This is where Sawant's
message is so important. Whether "ACA delivered something good" is not
the point. The point is, we have to inform the public on "what are we
not getting from it." And what we are not getting is most of the goals
of reform! The accomplishments are extremely modest compared to the
reform that we need.

What are we not getting from ACA that we would be getting from single payer?

* Truly universal coverage
* Dramatic reduction in administrative waste
* Removal of financial barriers to care
* Coverage of all essential health care services
* Free choice of hospitals and health care professionals
* Removal of the interventions and excesses of the private insurers
* Taxpayer financing based on ability to pay
* Infrastructure reform that would slow spending to sustainable levels

And what successes are the ACA supporters touting (though using
different rhetoric)?

* Coverage of only about half of the uninsured
* Shift to underinsurance products
* Guaranteed issue of these underinsurance products
* Deductibles that keep patients away from care by erecting financial
* Insurance subsidies that are inadequate
* Ultra-narrow networks that take away choice
* Insurance marketplaces that increase administrative complexity and waste
* Inadequate cost containment policies (except for perverse higher

Sawant delivers a very strong leftist message on social justice issues,
and includes in her comments the failures of the Democratic Party to
act. But this point on what we are not getting from ACA and why we need
single payer is not a leftist message. It is a call for all of us from
across the political spectrum who support single payer to take control
of the message. We can no longer allow ourselves to be a meek voice
silenced by those who, for noble and ignoble reasons, celebrate the
paltry successes of ACA.

Again, the something good that ACA did is not the point. The point is
what we are not getting from ACA and would be getting under a single
payer system. Let's drown out the message of the ACA supporters who
wimped out on real reform.

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