You might know this scenario. The one relative we never see except for holiday family gatherings is holding forth, blasting on high volume political opinions delivered straight from Fox News. Let’s say it’s Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving dinner. He turns to you and says, “Please tell me you are not supporting that socialist Medicare for All garbage that is going to bankrupt us all, and make me wait three years for heart surgery!”
How do you respond?
Of course, one option is to just head for the liquor cabinet or dessert table. If that’s your holiday tradition, no judgment here. But you can also directly engage with Uncle Bob, making the case for Medicare for All on his own terms. Like 99 percent of Americans, Uncle Bob would benefit from the change if he only knew the truth.
1. Medicare for All is good for red, white, and blue business. U.S. businesses compete at a serious disadvantage with companies in universal health care nations. International competitors are not saddled with huge and unpredictable costs for insuring their employees, nor the annual headache of choosing among convoluted and expensive health insurance plans for the company. Uncle Bob probably respects men of, so tell him that Warren Buffet calls our health care system the tapeworm of U.S. competitiveness.
If the afternoon’s football games are boring, fire up the excellent film Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point (free online here). Fix It makes the Medicare for All case from the business owner’s perspective. A Pennsylvania picture frame manufacturer and his workers tell the story about how health care costs hurt their business. A Canadian business owner goes on camera to say he is a dedicated conservative, and that his counterparts in the U.S. are crazy not to hand over health care challenges to the government so they can focus on building their business.
2. Our current health care system enables the worst kind of welfare. Uncle Bob can talk for hours about the evils of freeloading off the government, so he should know that there is no worse offender than the for-profit health care industry. Pharma corporations are fully dependent on taxpayer-funded research, government-granted monopolies, and no-negotiation government bulk purchases of their product. More and more conservatives are seeing the light, refusing to support an industry that embodies corporate welfare. Uncle Bob’s favorite president has said the companies are “getting away with murder” and conservative advocates write angry articles with titles like “The Free Market is Coming for Pharma.” Other countries with systems like Medicare for All use their negotiating power to rein in pharma profits and prices.
For-profit health insurance corporations are no better. They leech off of Uncle Bob’s tax dollars by burrowing their way into Medicare, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act exchanges, grabbing billions of dollars of profits in the process. Their business model is also dependent on the extensive tax incentives the government uses to spur us to pay private insurance premiums. Why should hard working Uncle Bob pay taxes just so CEOs can make tens of millions a year?
3. Medicare for All provides freedom for entrepreneurs. American ingenuity represented by independent small business makes Uncle Bob swell with patriotic pride. But the desperate need to get affordable health insurance through the workplace blocks creative, hard-working Americans from pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. Medicare for All would allow Uncle Bob to finally launch that online business he’s been dreaming about while he toils away working 9 to 5 for The Man.
4. Biblical values. Uncle Bob might think that Medicare for All is in conflict with Jesus. But it isn’t. Remind him that, across the faith spectrum, both holy scriptures and current denomination doctrines demand we guarantee health care for all. Other countries with Medicare for All-type systems fulfill the mandate from Uncle Bob’s holy book. (And Uncle Mohammed’s and Uncle Sol‘s, too.) When it comes to health care, it’s time for the U.S. to get right with God.
5. Don’t believe the for-profit health care “Deep State.” Conspiracies are all around us, Uncle Bob can assure you. Let him know that you agree, at least when it comes to health care. The for-profit industry that is a world-leader in buying political favor and hiring Brooks Brothers-wearing Washington lobbyists spends millions to spread lies about what Medicare for All would be. In fact, Medicare for All will save us money, provide better health care for more people — and yes, let Uncle Bob keep his doctor and not face crazy wait times. The only losers will be fat cat health care executives and their swamp-dwelling lobbyists, along with elitist politicians finally paying their fair share of taxes.
Psychologists caution us that people rarely change their beliefs instantly. But information and emotion that pulls in a different direction can gradually lead to a switch in point of view. Consider the persuasion of Uncle Bob as a war of attrition. If you share some of the points above, you have done enough for one holiday gathering. So, go help yourself to another slice of pumpkin pie. You deserve it.