Let us who supported the Obama Health Care bill assume the worst for a moment and accept that the Supreme Court may very well one day rule 5-4 that the Federal Government does not have the legal right to compel private citizens to purchase health insurance. This would nullify the act in its entirety and force the movement to reform our awful, inefficient, dangerous ‘sick care’ system back to square one. I, for one, say “Hooray!” Why, you ask? Because now we can have ourselves a good, efficient, less expensive, safe ‘health care’ system. And, what’s more, we can do this with the support of every single member of the House and Senate, be they Democrat and Republican, whilst we create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
First it should be understood, as it was made clear during the health care debate last year, that U.S. Government already has one of the best, most popular single payer health care delivery systems in the world: the Veterans Administration. The VA is run by the Pentagon by and for members of the armed services. Studies and articles about the success of the VA are innumerable. Some of the best known features are that its doctors are paid by salary rather than per service, all records are electronic which, along with good old fashion army checklist preparation, goes a long way towards preventing costly and deadly mistakes and, finally, preventative care is made paramount; this keeps veterans out of the hospital and costs down.
What I propose is that the VA system be expanded to offer coverage for ALL federal employees as it can be argued that they are all responsible for our collective safety and well being. Read, “National Defense”. This is true of members of the FBI, the DEA, CIA, Customs, INS, NSA, TSA, NIH, Secret Service, Federal Judges, the Postal Service and on and on.
Since this would be a matter of National Defense the budget for this health care system would continue to be included in that of the Pentagon. The program would continue to be administered by them. The Pentagon’s budget is considered sacrosanct by even the fiercest Tea Party deficit hawks. Those on the right will never cut it and could be talked into expanding it without too much difficulty.
Every member of the House and Senate, and their dependents, would be eligible for health care via this system. What’s more, this health care will be available to them FOR LIFE. A pharma or health insurance lobbyist will have a hard time convincing any elected member to forgo a such a perk, worth perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in out of pocket expenses on the open insurance market, in favor of ‘for profit’ healthcare.
This expansion of the VA should work in tangent with the reconstitution of the FDR Administration’s Work Progress Administration, known as the WPA. We are all aware of the woeful state of America’s transportation and energy infrastructure. Rebuilding and retooling it all is a project so massive that only government can undertake it. And doing so will be a matter of National Defense. This was how President Eisenhower pitched the Interstate Highway System to the American people in the 1950s. Eisenhower, though he knew the benefits would be economic, told the country that the system was needed to better transport nuclear weaponry around the country in an effort to more effectively defend ourselves against the Soviet threat during the Cold War. Those hired by this new WPA (and their families) would be eligible for federally delivered health care via the VA. Finally, the same case could be made for municipal employees; cops and firemen in particular. This would expand the roles of the new system by hundreds of thousands. The system would eventually supersede those of the expensive, fraud-ridden, under-funded Medicare and Medicaid which could eventually be phased out.
Finally, with the majority of Americans signed up for this expanded VA-like system, the old, for-profit system will wither and die. All citizens will be allowed to sign up with the new VA and will view doing so as their patriotic duty. In the future, with this system in place, charging exorbitant amounts for lousy healthcare will get you branded by the likes of Beck and Limbaugh as “Soft on Defense”. Oh, the shame!
B.H.J. Cummings is a writer/director/producer and health care theorist. He is the son of The Fire Insider