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Oneonta Daily Star – In Our Opinion: Single-payer health care plan makes a lot of sense

July 5

Let’s face it, you don’t understand all the nuances of Obamacare or the various Republican plans to replace it.

Don’t feel bad. Neither do we.

Like you, however, we can easily figure out that a Republican scheme that would take health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans over the next 10 years and remove $800 billion or so from Medicare funding isn’t going to be particularly popular.

That’s why only 12 percent of Americans support the GOP plan, according to the USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Friday.

Obamacare is far from perfect, and would benefit from a major overhaul, but it is working for millions of people. To that point, 53 percent of the poll’s respondents said Congress should keep the law in place or work to fix its problems rather than getting rid of it.

But there is another option that virtually all of us can understand.

It’s called a single-payer universal health care system.

We pay a bit more in taxes, and everything is covered. How much more simple could that be? A lot of other countries have it, or something very similar. One of them is Israel, whose citizens pay a health insurance tax. In return, this is what they get in coverage, according to “History of Israel Health Care.”

“Coverage includes medical diagnosis and treatment, preventive medicine, hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric and chronic), surgery and transplants, preventive dental care for children, first aid and transportation to a hospital or clinic, medical services at the workplace, treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism, medical equipment and appliances, obstetrics and fertility treatment, medication, treatment of chronic diseases and paramedical services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.”

Sounds pretty good, particularly when we consider that the United States spends more on health care than any other country on the planet.

Not that any of that is going to sway the Republicans who stroll the halls of Congress, content in the knowledge that toothaches are more popular than any member of their party who would even whisper about raising taxes.

But several states, including New York, are seriously considering initiating single-payer health care.

The New York Health Act has been passed three years in a row in the Democrat-led Assembly, only to die a quiet death without even a vote in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

The bill, which would provide 20 million New Yorkers with health insurance, is opposed by the powerful insurance industry for an obvious reason — it wouldn’t make nearly as much money. But with the ineptitude currently displayed in Washington, supporters of the New York legislation say they see an opening.

“A lot of people are realizing that the problems with an insurance-based system are not going to be solved by Washington,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Health Care Committee Chairman Dick Gottfried, D-Manhattan. “They are only going to make things worse.”

Of course, single-payer health care in this state isn’t going anywhere without the support of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, said to be contemplating a run for president in 2020, has yet to stake out a position on single-payer. We would urge him to do so, and support single-payer.

Not just because it could help him get the Democratic nomination, but it could give New Yorkers a health care plan we could understand.