We Need Medicare for All and Bernie Sanders More Than Ever

Our world has changed completely and Joe Biden’s tepid incrementalism won’t work.

Evan Sult Mar 27, 2020

The entire country — left, right or otherwise — is already understanding that pretty much everything Bernie Sanders has spent his whole life working toward has now become an absolute necessity. We are only going to get through this crisis with massive federal investments in the public good. 

We are already in the midst of a fundamental nationwide transformation. There is every reason that this should immediately change who should be the president in these times. Last month, one could make an argument for a President Joe Biden — I wouldn’t agree, but it was at least a rational position. Likewise, one could make a rational argument against the “risks” of a Sanders presidency. 

That is no longer the case. Compared to the possibility of a Sanders presidency, choosing Biden would be a deeply irresponsible, disastrous choice. One candidate has a plan for a transformed America that clearly and unequivocally prioritizes the health and financial well-being of every single American. The other is essentially running to win a beauty pageant and has already insisted that we cannot afford to make big changes to our system. Instead, he has doubled down on the existing structure of the deeply stratified, profit-driven classic American economic model.

It is crucial to recognize that everything has already changed. We need a transformational president. We need a president who can see a new way forward because the old way will not work.

The private health insurance industry will soon collapse under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. After that, there will only be one rational choice.

This is why: In the coming months, with millions of people sick and making claims, we will see our insurance-based healthcare system fail. This is because the whole industry is predicated on only having to pay out to a small fraction of their total policyholders at a time. When millions of people submit their claims to their insurance at the same time — and remember, this virus is happening in addition to all of the normal cancers, broken legs, peanut allergies, diabetes, etc that are a part of life — “insurance” is quite literally no longer insurance at all. It is nothing. At all.

And that doesn’t even count the millions of people like me who have lost or will be losing their jobs in the coming months and with their jobs, both their incomes and their “insurance.” People who will then be applying for new “insurance” right as the insurance companies realize that they cannot possibly accept new customers. If they do, they won’t be able to actually insure them in any meaningful way.

Soon, seeing that the claim payouts will swamp their economic model, your insurance provider — everyone’s insurance providers — are going to claim bankruptcy, to shield themselves from debt.

A post-insurance America is months, maybe even weeks away from happening. 

What will replace it?

The only rational response is direct care. That is: any person can go to the doctor or hospital and get treatment. Payment can not be a barrier to treatment, especially when treatment will be essential to quelling the disease that destroyed our healthcare system in the first place.

This means that doctors and hospitals will need to get their money from the government. The government must supply that money via direct spending from its coffers. As much as most senators from both sides of the aisle resist it, the truth will soon be plain: The government must pay caregivers directly, without routing the money through insurance companies. 

Thus universal healthcare, whatever name it is given, may well soon be the law of the land. At least temporarily, during this crisis. Universal healthcare is not an ideology. It’s not a position. It’s not left, or right or in any way radical. It is now the only way forward. The only way that does not end in the chaos of nightmares.

This isn’t a projection. This is already the case. Based on everything we know about this virus, it is going to overwhelm not just our hospitals, but our economic model for health itself.

With or without Bernie Sanders, we are about to experience this profound change. But, as Joe Biden would say, “Here’s the deal folks:” It is absolutely imperative that we have Bernie Sanders in place as our president next year. He has already proven to be the only political leader in the country who has planned for post-insurance, universal healthcare, and who can be trusted to maintain this model after the crisis finally begins to ebb. 

Unlike every other member of Congress or presidential candidate, he alone can be trusted to oversee an equitable model of healthcare distribution, prioritizing equality of access and affordability for all Americans, because these are all priorities that Bernie Sanders has deeply considered, planned for and is ready to implement. 

Yes, a month ago those plans were fantastically ambitious and of arguably dubious practicality. Now, in our new reality, they are the only plans that are fantastic enough, that are practical enough. They are the only way to shield the non-fantastically wealthy from the gigantic disruptions that are coming. 

We are likely entering an era that will be more devastating, and more structurally tumultuous, than the Great Depression. And we have a chance to elect our next FDR now. 

There is only one choice that doesn’t tear our country to pieces.

We must tell Joe Biden, “Stand down and make way for the desperately needed president of a transformed America. You have proven by your absence in the last month that you don’t actually want the job. Bernie Sanders has spent his whole life preparing for this moment. Once upon a time, there was an argument to be made for your incrementalist approach to healthcare and reforming our starkly unequal society. That time is absolutely, definitively gone.”

And we must tell the Democratic Party, “Understand that everything is changed. Rally around your new FDR. This is your chance to do the right thing at the right moment.” 

President Bernie Sanders will help us survive the long tail of this pandemic. He is the only person who can rebuild our healthcare system from insurance-based to direct care in the permanent, long-term model that we require if we are ever going to regain our footing.

Millions of lives and livelihoods depend on this realization. 

Editor’s Note: New York is one of 23 states along with Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are still scheduled to hold presidential primaries. New York is currently weighing whether to move its April 28 primary to June 23. 

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