Why are we even debating healthcare? What is it we want?
Start Where We Agree
Should the poor be denied access to non-emergency doctors and medical services?
Should we allow the elderly to die because they cannot afford medications?
Should we force parents into bankruptcy if their children are born sick?
Step 1: Create Common Ground
Most people will agree that those are bad outcomes. Unless you’re a sociopath whose more concerned with the DOW Jones Industrial Average than the lives of human beings, you likely believe that children, elderly, and the poor all deserve access to quality healthcare. As a country, we could pause the debate over how we want our healthcare managed and take the time to deliberately agree on our common values.
Step 2: Set the Goal
Rather than immediately getting into a debate about what solution best fits into our common ground, we should immortalize the goal as a fixture of all future American policy. We should pass a constitutional amendment that guarantees healthcare as a right for all Americans.
At this point we don’t need to know how we’ll meet the standards of that amendment, but it’s important to have for numerous reasons.
Step 3: Utilize Checks & Balances
By arming American citizens with the constitutional amendment, we give them the power of the courts to hold their representatives accountable.
If we were to adopt a single payer system, that system will be protected. The moment an opportunistic politician tries to save money of wealthy donors by stealing from the healthcare system, lawsuits can be filed by citizens who feel their constitutional right to healthcare is being impaired by this policy.
Likewise, even if we stay with private insurance there will be a mandate on congress to ensure that everyone has access to an affordable insurance plan. All congressional attempts to modify our healthcare system would be subject to legal challenge and ultimately vulnerable to the scrutiny of the United States Supreme Court. This would ensure that our healthcare isn’t being compromised for lobbyists, slashed for the benefit of tax cuts for the wealthy, and that it is inclusive of all Americans.
It doesn’t really matter whether the United States has a single payer system like most other western nations or adopts a different solution. What is important is that all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us, has access to healthcare.
Rather than arguing about solutions, congress would better serve the American people by setting the goal of healthcare for all Americans by passing a constitutional amendment that guarantees this right.
This would put in place the mechanism for the American people to use the courts to hold congress accountable for meeting that goal, no matter which solution they decide to try first.