Healthcare is a Human Right
As a 2020 Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I am voting “No” on the proposed Platform. I hope you will join me and the many other activists speaking out today as we advocate for taking healthcare further. We work on behalf of all Americans — for the betterment of everyone — because we believe it is the only right choice in front of us.
Here is why:
- The platform is an aspirational document. It is foolish to start with the incremental solution in a document that is supposed to lay out our highest goals. We need to hold our party to a higher aspiration when it comes to the critical issue of healthcare.
- Especially at this particular time, during the pandemic, the call to reconsider single-payer healthcare is a unifying public message because we know 88% of Democratic voters and 69% of all voters support single-payer healthcare. (Hill/Harris.) It’s important for voters to see us advocating for this issue in a serious way.
- Every single state Democratic Party platform declares that healthcare is a human right and 61% of them specifically call for a single-payer system. Additionally, 75% of the delegates themselves support single-payer and/or Medicare for All. (2020delegates.com)
- It’s critical that we not let the media identify single-payer healthcare and Medicare for All as only “Bernie’s issue.” It has to be a people’s movement now, so that the media and the establishment wing of the Democrats cannot just dismiss it since Bernie is not running for President anymore.
- The draft 2020 platform affirms that healthcare is a human right. It is the responsibility of the government to protect and uphold that right by untying healthcare from employment and profit margins, and guaranteeing healthcare for all. We cannot allow the corporate profit margins to dictate the quality and equality of our healthcare.
- The most reason-based approach to determining “right actions” is the utilitarianism approach to thinking through a problem: “What will produce the most good for the largest number of people?” The solution in the Platform advocates for a public option. Essentially, this idea expands the existing system and creates an option for people to choose, that is similar to Medicare for All, but is not the only health insurance available. Unfortunately, people with more resources will have better healthcare than people with more modest means if this were the solution that got implemented. People with the most resources would choose to go with a private health insurance which would slowly drain resources from the public option, dooming it to failure. We know this from the experience of schools. When there is school choice, allowing people with more income to create their own charter schools, it ultimately drains resources from schools where lower income people live. We should not look away from this, and anyone who supports the public school system should consider whether a similar pattern would follow for a public option healthcare system.
Don’t worry! Yes, ultimately, I will support Joe Biden. I am absolutely committed to working hard to get him elected. He is demonstrably, and by far, a better leader than our current President. In many respects I am satisfied with the work Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have done with the Unity Task Force and the Platform Committee Members to find reasonable and moral policies for the critical problems we face. I don’t expect Joe Biden to suddenly become a progressive just because I wish it were so. And, although there are many solutions in our proposed Platform that Bernie Sanders’-inspired activists would like to see taken further, many elements of the Platform go far enough that I can say, “Okay, I understand why he stopped there and I can support this approach as it is currently articulated.” But, unfortunately, the healthcare section is not one of these. Especially at this critically important time, the healthcare section is woefully — and even morally — inadequate. I must draw the line and vote no.