England, whose economy, government and legal system mirror ours to a great extent, implemented universal health care 75 years ago. It is not perfect; its services and drugs are not nearly as innovative or competitive as those produced by the American system of medicine.
But the American healthcare system is enormously inefficient. It gobbles up 18 percent of the gross domestic product. That is more money than the entire GDP of all but five nations in the world. About a third of the total, or $1 trillion, is spent during the last six months of life, often in unnecessary diagnostics and procedures — called defensive medicine — to avoid malpractice suits.
It was Obamacare that drove the results of the presidential race. In simple terms, Hillary Clinton was identified with the status quo; Donald Trump was identified with wholesale repeal or radical reform.
Trump won, and his party has both houses of Congress. The temptation is for him to go for the jugular and repeal Obamacare. But in the long run, that wouldn’t solve anything, as Americans of both parties have grown accustomed to the idea that no citizen should be turned away from a needed medical care.
It is entirely possible for Trump to accept Obama’s invitation to reform, rather than repeal the Affordable Care Act. Coupled with opening up insurance competition across state lines, the fairly simple expansion of Medicare/Medicaid from elderly and poor to the unemployed and the near-indigent would result in universal healthcare that is economic and market-driven.
Many would say it would take a statesman to pull off such a feat of unification. Trump is no statesman, but he is a proven salesman whose talent has spilled from the private sector to the public sector, with equal (and astounding) success.
From Obama’s lips to God’s — Trump’s — ears.
Xavier L. Suarez,