Democrats…Don’t listen to Joe…Scarborough…about Healthcare, that is

Ed – Because this is “A Tale of Two Joes” I want to clarify up front, so there’s no confusion, that when I refer to “Joe” I am refereeing to Joe Scarborough. And Joe Biden is “Biden”. I think that covers it. Now on with the show…

I watch some Morning Joe in the morning…which, as far as I’m concerned, is the correct time of day to do it. I started watching around the time of our last presidential election.

I like the show…the regulars. Even if it is hosted by a recovering Republican “New Federalist” ( I guess he saw the light). But if I’m being honest, it often bores me. I’ll give you an example. Election Polls. When they talk about those polls…which is often the opening block of the show…they can go on and on and on…I know it’s a springboard to discuss the field of candidates (so they can tell us that Biden is best), but, CHRIST, it can be a mind numbing trek getting there.

I’ll save you some time…Trump has 45% of the country behind him (easy to remember…as he’s the 45th president)…if the number changes let me know…It’s like the SoCal weather report.

So it isn’t a great show…but it was a good place to go to heal when America stepped off the cliff in 2016…when we, via the Republican Party, elected a lying, crooked, incompetent, ignorant, White Nationalist, demagogue, narcissist, propagandist with “Russian ties” as our President.

From the start, Joe and his crew were, quite rightly, fronting a sort of soft “resistance”. You knew this was a news commentary show where you would get the deets on the latest distraction, scandal or tragedy, and not have to be bothered with any right wing propaganda talking points in an attempt to appear “balanced” or “unbiased”.

This “balanced” approach is what has kept me from watching CNN. I remember in 2016/2017 trying to watch Anderson Cooper’s “balanced” panels. And I would just think, “Why am I listening to Trump surrogate disinformation?” I love Anderson. And he would challenge the BS, but he was just too respectful and measured…so I stopped tuning over.

Anyway…Joe has been annoying me lately. BIG TIME. And it’s getting worse. To the point where I’m probably going to have to bail on his show (Sorry, Willie). I get it; In his mind he has picked Biden as the “Trump-Buster”…so he’s going to shill and distort for Biden.

I’m for Elizabeth Warren. I’m not anti-Biden, but I’m for Warren…so I don’t really want to hear Warren’s policy positions being misrepresented by a guy who rode into town with Newt Gingrich back in the 90s (Joe…never forget you are on lifetime probation for that).

The battlefield Joe is choosing to rhetorically soften Biden’s opponents up on is the Healthcare debate. This is what he picked (don’t ask me why). He claims it’s foolish for Warren, or anyone, to follow Bernie Sanders’ call to create National Health Service for America.

Universal healthcare is one of Sanders’ big things. He called his bill for it “Medicare for All”. But it’s not based on the American Medicare system. The name is just a branding thing because “Medicare” is popular. It is in fact a single-payer plan.

If implemented we might come to call it the “Public Healthcare System”…kind of like your friendly Public School System. Or, if you want to make it really scary, call it “Socialized Medicine” [Horror movie jump scare sting]. BRING OUT THE DEATH PANELS!!! (The Death Panelists, BTW, also have a second job…they will also make the compulsory creepy-male-gynecologist assignments.)

No joke, single-payer is an ambitious vision for the future of American healthcare and would require radical changes to a huge and ever expanding part of our economy (Somewhere around 20% of our current GDP as it stands. That’s a lot of cheese). The entrenched, monolithic forces allied against this change (be they good or evil…mainly evil) would be insurmountable. As they were against Obama and his Affordable Care Act (ACA)…but wait, maybe “insurmountable” isn’t the word…because Obama did manage to move the ball.

And, yes, it cost him greatly. On the difficulty chart, reforming the American healthcare system is tantamount to a mainland invasion of China. Obama pissed away a huge amount (maybe all) of his “Yes We Can!” political capital bringing us the ACA and its ending of the great “preexisting conditions” FRAUD…It cost him, but he did do it.

It was a sacrifice he, his administration and his party made for you and me. In just about every way you can imagine, he was hobbled and lame-ducked on the back of that sacrifice…but it was a “step”. He pushed back the immovable object that is the healthcare industry, if ever so slightly.

And oh how the Republicans cried and swore to “repeal and replace” the ACA for YEARS. And SIX YEARS later, when they finally had the presidency, both houses of congress and the power to actually “repeal and replace” the ACA…Guess what? They somehow FORGOT to come up with a suitable replacement in those six years…WHAT? WOOPS! So, yeah, that happened. And then they said, “Well…I guess we’ll just repeal it then.” But by some miracle, John McCain stopped that…then died…and then the Republicans just sort of moved on and soon lost the house in the next election…So we still have the ACA…I swear, you can’t write this shit.

I know, as a Warren supporter, that Health Care reform is not really her big thing like it is for Sanders. Just look at Warren’s campaign website. It literally is not addressed there. As a woman with a plan for everything, you’d think you would find a position paper on it there…somewhere, amongst a looot of papers…somewhere…but you’d be wrong. Maybe she has a plan for writing it. I don’t know.

But even without a position paper, it is understood that Warren would protect and expand the ACA. Furthermore, when asked, she has stated she’s for single-payer. She is a co-sponsor of Sanders’ Medicare for All bill. So she is in…just not deep enough to put it up on her website…yet.

Biden, on the other hand, is also for protecting, expanding and improving the ACA. He is, however, not for a single-payer plan…so there we disagree, but I understand Biden’s desire to stay away from that proverbial invasion of mainland of China. After all, he was right on the front lines when Obama got neutered back in the day. Once bitten, twice shy. A totally sensible position.

But there is a difference. And it is a big difference that matters to me. It’s a moral issue for me.

I believe American citizens should have access to routine preemptive care, reproductive health care, medically necessary surgery, treatments and medications, without financial penalty, as a right.

“So how do you fund that?” Funding would come from a new National Health Service tax which will pay out for services rendered at negotiated rates. Now you’re not paying an insurance company, you’re paying the government, who will be accountable to you, instead of shareholders and “milkers”. If the rates get set right, and we corral Big Pharma, we’ll be paying less than we do now…Sorry, GDP.

And so this difference in position, among other things, is why I prefer Warren to Biden. Even if she isn’t currently putting herself out strongly on that specific issue.

It is at this point that I will address concerns, very justifiable concerns, over the concept of handing over a fifth of the economy, funded via a big, ugly tax mandate, to a big, ugly Federal bureaucracy.

If not set up correctly, if not managed responsibly, it will become a nightmare. Replacing one problem with another, worse problem.

For a troubled model of a American healthcare bureaucracy, we need look no further than  the VA scandals just in this last decade, with their outdated medical records systems and long wait times for access to care costing lives…let’s face it, it doesn’t really help me make my case that a single-payer bureaucracy funding your healthcare is better.

One positive thing you can say about a voluntary, free market insurance based system is that failed companies can be replaced with new companies and innovation in a free market. This sort of churn, or ‘crop rotation’, is hard to foster or create in a bureaucratic system…no one wants an underfunded-DMV-like hospital experience.

I can see the insurance industry lobby attack ads now. We start on a cold, grey, Soviet-era-style hospital building. Cut to a dirty, chaotic, overfilled waiting area that goes on for a mile. Cut to a dim, dingy multi-patient room with cement block walls and no windows, lit by a single flickering bulb hanging on a wire. We see tortured patients, weak and writhing on lined up stainless steel hospital beds that look more like mortician slabs. A doctor enters in a dirty lab coat, mask on; a cold, dead expression in his lifeless eyes. He clumsily reaches for a rusty scalpel on a tray of implements right out of an Eli Roth film. You see the doctor’s dark form silhouetted in the harsh light of the naked bulb. He raises the knife up above his head. Cut to black….and then these words…“Socialized Medicine…Do you really think it can work?…TRUMP 2020”

I understand the argument. I’m not naive. I comprehend the risks and challenges inherent in creating a National Health Service. Particularly in an America that is in the midst of a culture war…where we can’t even have a productive discussion on climate change. But I will not let fear be my guiding principle. I will not give up on the idea of free universal healthcare coverage for all citizens, regardless of wealth or employment status. The current insurance model, even with a public option, will not get us there. So we need to move to a system that will…like the one they have in England, Canada, Australia…and some 60 or so other countries according to Wikipedia.

So I’m for single-payer, making the case for it and doing the hard work to make it a success in implementation.

Okay, so now I’ll get back to how Joe is annoying me…daily.

Here’s what he’s doing:

  1. He has painted candidates who support the single-payer plan as criticizing or attacking Obama, Obama’s legacy and/or the ACA.
  2. He has taken the position that the single-payer plan is an impossible, naive dream, or worse a lie…often comparing it to Trump’s “Great”/“Best” Healthcare plan (a plan that we all know doesn’t actually exist).

His first point, that advocating for single-payer is somehow anti-Obama or anti-ACA is just flat out ridiculous. Every one of the candidates knows Obama crucified himself to make the ACA happen, and that it was an improvement over what it replaced…a flawed but workable solution. Obama knew he could only take things so far. He chose his battles. He executed on a plan and he got something done. For instance, ending “preexisting conditions”. Not for himself, but for millions of suffering Americans. Every one of those Democratic candidates knows and respects that. SO PLEASE, Joe, get off that point. It is a misrepresentation of the facts. THEY JUST WANT TO TAKE WHAT OBAMA STARTED FURTHER…you know? Based on their plans or ideas…Just like any progressive candidate running for president should.

But it’s that second point, his constant assertion that single-payer is an impossible Trumpian lie. That BS has me turning on Joe, “BIGLY”.

When I hear him spilling that BS, I could swear to God I’m listening to a medical insurance industry lobbyist.

Single-payer isn’t a lie. It has nothing to do with Trump. And it isn’t impossible. It is a “vision”. It is a vision for the future of healthcare in America modeled on systems we see in place and functioning well in other countries. Other counties where they seem to (surprise, surprise) have more control over their per capita health care costs (…passing those savings on to you, the common man).

American Big Insurance, Big Med, Big Pharma…they are MILKING the common man. You and I know it, Joe. It is a BIG milk job. Inflated Insulin prices… a BIG milk job. Cost of inpatient care…a BIG milk job. The synth-opioid epidemic…a BIG milk job. Every GOD DAMN thing they do is a BIG GOD DAMN milk job…which is GREAT for the investors (who, I suppose, already have the really good insurance), but it isn’t working for the common man…and hasn’t for a long time.

I guess it kind of works…if you have a BIG employer or union that actually provides benefits…you know, one of those unicorns…then you’re safe (knowing you haven’t lost your right to have access to your chosen physician…the BIG FEAR)…but everyone else is just scrambling.

In truth, every person is a perfect target for the milkers when their number comes up. And so, another family with a chronically ill child and good insurance goes bankrupt. Hey Joe, you go tell that family that single-payer is impossible. You tell them single-payer isn’t worth fighting for. That it’s just a Trumpian lie. Tell them that incremental improvement to the current system, including maybe a public option down the road is the best we can do, even though this shit wouldn’t happen to them if they lived in England or Canada. Cause I’m not going to. I BELIEVE there IS a better way. I have FAITH that we can fix the problem. THAT WE CAN GET CONTROL OF BIG MONEY! WE JUST HAVE TO FIGHT FOR IT! WE JUST HAVE TO VOTE FOR IT!

So all that milk money being stolen (or skimmed, if you prefer) by these investors and these owners and the executives (who provide NO CARE)…all that money needs to be taken back and paid out to the ACTUAL GIVERS OF CARE…like they do in all those other countries that got it straight.

For instance, we can use some of that money to fund those rural hospitals that seem to be disappearing because they can’t “stay in business”. That’s a red state concern? Right? See? I care.

We know the ACA was not the end of the fight…it was a battle won. The battle to end EVIL “preexisting conditions” clauses as a thing.

We will continue to battle, and we will have to until America catches up to the rest of the civilized world.

If we’re ever going to get there, we need leaders with a desire and a vision to get us there. Even if they are unable to execute on it immediately, they need to plant the seeds. They need to educate the electorate that there is a better way.

Our current American medical insurance industry paradigm was not handed down by God on stone tablets. It developed rapidly and recently, historically speaking. Yes, as a system it was, and is, a great wealth generator (WE LOVE OUR CAPITALISM), but that does not mean it is the best system to fund and provide healthcare access to the American people.

Instead of providing care, our current healthcare system, for too many, supplies fear, stress, insecurity, and unaffordable prescription medications.

It creates an environment where people avoid going in for routine checkups that can detect health issues before they become catastrophic. Costing livesLives that Neil Degrasse Tyson sincerely cares about via Twitter.

It creates an environment where people skip or half their meds because they can’t afford their prescriptions and their rent. Causing some to, you know, dieNeil can get you the statistics on that, if you’re interested.

It creates an environment where people work jobs they don’t want to because they are afraid of losing their benefits…and live shitty compromised livesUnlike Neil Degrasse Tyson, who loves his job and his life…and tweeting apparently…but I digress.

If America is about freedom, why can’t we be free of this nonsense, this bondage, this fear that is Medical insurance? Ya know, just get healthy…in mind and body. Is that so crazy? To get this yoke off the common man’s neck? Is it?

It’s fucked up, Joe, and it’s fucked up that you would belittle and malign a very sensible solution to one of the great issues facing American families…our healthcare dollars getting ripped off to pay out the investor class… instead of being used to buy us, you know, healthcare…and do it just to try to make some points for your buddy Biden the “Trump-Buster”.

It’s fucking cowardice…from a lot of angles.

But I don’t know, maybe you invest in healthcare stocks, maybe your advertisers like where you’re coming from. You know, the status quo…

I guess Joe, and people like Joe, think that fighting for a single-payer National Health Service is a bad idea. That somehow just talking about it is going to get Trump reelected. They see Biden’s rejection of single-payer as some sort of pivotal difference, proving he is the better candidate.

…but me, just knowing the nonsense, the pain, the poverty and the toll in human lives the current broken, insurance based system is causing, it makes me think these anti-single-payer people are either craven, corrupt, compromised, blind or stupid.

…so I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

I’ll tell you this, give Warren a year to make her case to the American people. Single-payer or no. Trust me. She’ll bust Trump. No fucken problem.

And I swear to God, Joe, if I hear any more of this anti-single-payer propaganda coming out of your [insert descriptor here] face, I’m canceling you off the DVR…probably (I can’t quit my Willie).