Universal Health Care: The Time Is Now

I think it is safe to say that the week marking Donald Trump's sixth month in office has not gone exactly as planned. The Russia scandal continues to evolve in new and unexpected ways with the help of the president's bumbling son. Trump's approval levels are at record lows. And the there is the big f'ing deal: the collapse of the Senate's ACA repeal bill.

For those keeping score of the president's first six months in power, that means he has tweeted 991 times, spent 40 days at Trump-brand golf resorts, and passed zero pieces of major legislation. The Trumpster fire is burning bright.

For the Resistance, it's an accomplishment worth celebrating. It was our calls, protests, and town halls that made it clear to GOP moderates that we wouldn't accept a bill that caused 23 million to lose their coverage. They had no choice but to listen.

Of course, we should not let our guard down. It was only a few months ago that a gloomy Paul Ryan took to a podium to declare the House's version of Trumpcare was dead. Weeks later, it rose shambling from the grave to terrorize the nation again. The truth is that the ACA isn't safe until the GOP loses its stranglehold on our government. Taking back the House in 2018 is critical.

Doing so will be a challenge, but the road will become easier if the Democrats realize that the time is now to embrace true universal healthcare as a central pillar of their platform.

The fight over Obamacare has highlighted a number of important truths about our country. The first truth is that our current system, while better than it was pre-ACA, is nowhere near sufficient to meets the healthcare needs of all our citizens. We get nowhere near the bang for our buck that most countries see from their systems and regularly finish behind European nations in terms of overall care. This is a long-term problem as well. A World Health Organization report in 2000 showed that the US spent more on healthcare than anyone but ranked a dismal 37th (France, who have a universal health care system, ranked 1st). If we are spending as much as we do on healthcare, we should not have tens of millions uninsured and millions more underinsured.

The second truth is that Americans now believe that healthcare is a fundamental right. Per Gallup, a majority of Americans believe that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that everyone has coverage. Other polls show broad support for a single government-run healthcare plan. The fight around the ACA has revealed to many Americans that our system, in which our ability to get the care we and our families need is dictated by the whims of private insurance companies, is exceptional only in its failings when compared to every other Western nation.

Let's be realistic. We are not getting a universal healthcare system in the next few years. While I honestly think Trump would sign anything put in front of him just so he can call it a win, the GOP-controlled Congress would never let it happen. But the Democrats need to embrace the message and do it now. Their chief campaign promise from here until the end of the Trump presidency should be to implement a truly universal healthcare system, one worthy of this country and its people.