We need to flip the script on the 'how will you pay for health care?' question

We need to flip the script on the 'how will you pay for health care?' question
Bernie Sanders image via Yasamin Jafari Tehrani, Shutterstock. Bernie Sanders Image via Yasamin Jafari Tehrani, Shutterstock

We can’t allow this question to stand anymore. We just can’t.


“How will you pay for Medicare for All/universal health care?”

It’s fatuous. It’s fake.

It’s a donation in-kind to the insurance industry.

I don’t have a health care plan — and I’m certainly no expert on the minutiae of health care policy, because I spend far too much time smoking weed and collecting vintage My Little Pony bath toys — but I have eyes, and I can read about the rest of the world.

How can we pay for a comprehensive universal health care plan? Jesus Christ, how can we not?

That’s the relevant question.

Can we really afford, as a nation, to be this unhealthy? And why didn’t we wring our hands this vigorously before the Apollo moon landing? Well, because we thought winning the space race was vital to our national interests. So we rolled up our sleeves and did it.

But this isn’t the space program, you say. No, it’s not. When we put a human being on the moon, no one had ever done it before. We don’t have to blaze any trails here. We just need to crib the best ideas from the literally dozens of other countries that are already doing this.

The message has to change. Debate moderators will ask candidates for the gritty details about their health care plans, but when you get bogged down in wonky policy prescriptions, voters just get flustered and confused.

We need to flip the script.

The question is not “how will you pay for it?” The question is “how can we not pay for it?”

This is the United States of America. We financed the moon shot, the Marshall Plan, endless (often pointless) wars — and yet we lag behind virtually everyone in the developed world on health care policy.

Here’s what we should be asking:

How can Canada pay for it?

How can Denmark pay for it?

How can the U.K. pay for it?

Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, Japan, Singapore — how do they pay for it?

WT-ever-living-F?

How can debate moderators still get away with asking this question?

How, as a supposedly educated country, can we be this deliberately obtuse? It’s like we’re all sitting here, staring wistfully across the backyard fence at our neighbors who make half our salary, and saying, “Gee, I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to send our kids to the dentist, what with our AR-15 collection and the outrageous pool fees.”

It’s madness.

Make. It. Stop.

Priorities, people. Just get it done. It’s not rocket science.

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