Email #281: “insurance for everybody”?

While the President has vacillated on many positions, his pledge for universal healthcare is one of his few consistencies. He said in 1999: “If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. … I believe in universal healthcare.”

He repeated the point the following year in his book The America We Deserve: “I’m a conservative on his most issues but a liberal on health. It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to 42 million. Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal healthcare.”

When asked as a candidate in an April 2015 debate, “Now, 15 years ago, you called yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system. Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?” he answered: “As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.”

When Sean Hannity asked him a similar question later in 2015, he answered: “As far as single-payer and all — there’s so many different things you could have. Honestly, Sean, to do, to have great health insurance. The one thing I do tell people, we’re going to have something great.”

And he said as President-elect in January: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us…. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

Senator Sanders has now introduced a bill for near-universal healthcare. It would expand Medicare into single-payer system for nearly every American. Despite the President’s long-standing commitment to universal healthcare and his open admiration for other countries’ single-payer systems, Press Secretary Sanders said: “I think that the president as well as the majority of the country knows that the single payer system that the Democrats are proposing is a horrible idea.”

I don’t know enough about the complexities of healthcare systems to know whether expanding Medicare would be “horrible” or not. I do know that the President has been open to similar single-payer approaches, despite his press secretary’s claim.

I personally don’t care how universal coverage is accomplished. If you have a better way to achieve the President’s goal, I would very much like to hear it. And if you reject Sanders’ approach, then it is your responsibility to propose a better path to universal healthcare.

I know you oppose the Affordable Care Act. I don’t personally care if the ACA is repealed or not—as long as it’s replaced by something that moves us closer to the President’s commitment. Is that your goal too? Or do you oppose “insurance for everybody”?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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