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Short and sweet today, folks. We open with another epigraph: "Health care is a right, not a privilege. The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to every man, woman, and child through a Medicare for All single-payer system" (318).
This was a nice little chapter, in part because health care policy is what stirs me at my core, and in part because it wasn't 1/5 of the book. Bernie spends some time talking about Canada and being the Vermont drug runner we all know he is. He covers the deficiencies of the Affordable Care Act while assuring the reader he supports and supported it. He mentions how the United States overspends on health care that its citizens can't use and how "access," which is so commonly sold by politicians as being equivalent to health care, is wildly unequal in distribution, leaving many low-income rural and low-income urban areas in the lurch.
One talking point that I've really only seen the more advanced arguments make, once people get through the "right, not a privilege" bits, but a talking point that I really like is the "negative impact [our current health care system] has on our entrepreneurial spirit" (325). I think a skilled rhetorician armed with economic facts in the true savings of the system and this freedom-oriented outlook could probably win over some small-c conservative thinkers to supporting a single-payer system. Maybe that's just me.
Prescription drugs are a grift.
Something Bernie touches on that I don't remember for the campaign is the huge importance of dental care on the impact of people's lives. He spends a whole section of the chapter talking about how "bad teeth can not only lead to pain and illness, but it has an economic consequence. Try applying for a job when your front teeth are missing and you can't smile. Having bad or missing teeth makes it clear to the world that you are poor, which makes it hard for you to find employment, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty" (329). It reminds me of a short survey I did when I arrived at college and suddenly found myself surrounded by people of means. One simple question: "Do you know any adults under the age of 65 who has missing teeth?" Overwhelmingly, those of us from low-income areas would start listing names, and those of us who weren't would draw blanks. The survey was done as a result of my telling a story about my mother's occasionally-used partial dentures and the wild-eyed stares I received as though I was from another planet. Anyway, in Vermont, they've apparently put dentist offices into low-income schools, which is insanely cool to me, someone who went to the dentist approximately three times ever as a child.
Bernie calls for "a revolution in mental health treatment" before tying everything together into discussing how a holistic approach and single-payer system would improve society at large (331). The section concludes with his outlining his proposed legislation, detailing the benefits and the funding model that would put the United States on par with the rest of the world when it comes to caring for its citizens.
All in all some nice reading for an autumn afternoon. Sound off in the comments.
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