Medicare for all!

Medicare, Medicare, Medicare won the election on Tuesday in the 26th district in New York State, and the Democratic candidate Kathy Hochula became the beneficiary of the voters’ verdict in a surprising upset in the, usually, staunchly Republican district.

As a European, who has made America my home for many years, I am still partial to anything in the American health care system that smells like Canada or Europe – where health care is a fundamental right for everyone, like basic education, too important to leave to private market forces.

I like Medicare. I profit from it myself. So I completely understand the voters of the 26th district in voting down the Paul Ryan proposal to privatize Medicare. It works, unlike so much else in American health care.

For this reason, I am delighted that Vermont’s Democratic Governor, Peter Shumlin, today signed into law a new single payer health care system, which basically is Medicare for all, regardless of age. Shumlin said that the new law would make Vermont the first state in the nation to make health care “a right and not a privilege.”

I like Vermont, a State of proud firsts, as Amy Goodman writes, “first to join the 13 colonies. Its constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all – public education.” On “Democracy Now,” you can listen to Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All explain it all.

We will hear a lot more about this in the coming months. In fact, it is likely it will dominate the campaign rhetoric up until the election next year.

But, as E. J. Dionne points out in the Washington Post today, the election in New York State was not only about Medicare, it was Medicare combined with the promotion in the Republican budget proposal of further tax cuts for the wealthy. That made the whole thing into an issue of fairness. The Republicans have gone too far, they have no mandate for this.

The result in New York’s 26th district and the vote yesterday in the Senate on the Ryan budget proposal, with four moderate Republicans, two of them up for re-election next year, siding with the Democratic majority, are both clear signs how worried the Republicans have become. They mutter about “Mediscare,” but the truth is that to tamper with a popular program like Medicare has proven politically disastrous.

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