In superhero comics and movies, it’s not uncommon for groups of heroes to put aside their differences and team up to fight injustice (think the Avengers or the Justice League). By banding together and synergizing their powers, these team-ups allow the heroes to be much more powerful as a collective than they could be as individuals.
This is a blog post about… not that.
See, comics also frequently have villain team-ups, wherein a motley crew of ne’er-do-wells gang up to wreak more havoc on society as a group than they could on their own.
In November, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce formed what it called the “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” which is a coalition of American groups representing varied private health industries that reap enormous profits from health care costs paid by the American people. Though the Chamber likes to paint this as an alliance of heroes fighting for justice—a kind of real life Justice League—there’s plenty of good reason to believe it’s a team-up of the more villainous variety.
These pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital special interests do not share the same goals on every issue, but on this one particular issue they are aligned with the U.S. Chamber: it is very profitable to them to keep the health care status quo in America. This is an issue so important to the Chamber that its president, Thomas Donohue, said during his 2019 annual “State of American Business” address that it plans to use “all of its resources” to achieve its goal. That goal? Stopping single-payer healthcare. The Partnership’s desperation to stop the growing momentum and popularity of Medicare-for-All showcases a desire to preserve the status quo on the part of those who profit from it, no matter the cost to ordinary Americans.
Here is the not-so-super reality: Compared to other developed nations, America spends far more to get far less in terms of health care results. We live in a country where 30 million people lack health insurance; where even those who are insured face rising premiums, the risk of gaps in services covered, a confusing and frustrating labyrinth of in-network and out-of-network providers, and the possibility of enormous bills leaving them deeply in debt or facing bankruptcy. Too many Americans feel afraid to start their own small business (ostensibly a high priority for the Chamber) or to move to an area or work in the field of their choice because losing their employer-provided insurance could be financially devastating. Lack of access to adequate health insurance is a key reason Americans routinely skip needed treatment or skip doses of prescribed medications due to the cost. One study found that America had the highest rate of deaths preventable by access to appropriate health care of the 16 industrialized nations it examined.
Medicare-for-All would ensure universal coverage, allowing the 30 million currently uninsured Americans to finally seek the health care they need but cannot afford. It would eliminate the problem of certain services, such as mental health care, being simply unaffordable for large segments of the population. It would do away with health insurance provider networks, which can result in patients unknowingly being treated by an out-of-network provider and stuck with an astronomical surprise bill. It would keep Americans healthier by relieving the pressure to skip out on preventive care. And it would bring America in line with comparable developed nations in terms of the superior results we’d be getting for our healthcare spending.
One thing that Medicare-for-All would not do, however, is allow the US Chamber and its private health industry cronies to continue getting richer while the rest of us suffer.
The truth is that Medicare-for-All is not some world-threatening Big Bad that the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is teaming up to defend the country from. In reality, it is just the opposite. And, since the Chamber and its big business allies are looking to maintain a health care system that places profits over people’s health, it’s no shocking plot twist that it is attempting to confuse and distract the public to hide that fact. That sort of conniving might make Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom let out a menacing cackle of delight.
In the fight for Medicare-for-All, it is We the People—grassroots activists from across the nation and the politicians who represent us—who are the real superheroes. It’s time for We the People to band together to take on the enormous and intimidating foe of American corporate profiteers to demand a more just health care system for everyone in the U.S. Afterwards, the celebratory shawarma is on us.
Photo credit: Flickr user Veera.P Veenasee (DC Supervillains)
[CC-BY 4.0]/Cropped and Resized from Original