What’s in a (policy) name?

Home Blog Blog Health care What’s in a (policy) name?

What’s in a (policy) name?

I read this article in Progress Illinois today and it got me thinking.

One of the challenges of nationalized health care is the name itself: Socialized medicine. Single payer health care. Nationalized health care. “European-style” or worse yet, “Canadian-style.” (Canadian-style?! Sure, we’ll give their bacon a whirl… but their policy of providing efficient, effective and comprehensive health and social services to everyone? You keep that on your side of the border, eh!)

In recent years, some advocates have taken to calling it “Medicare for All,” the concept of which was developed by Senator Ted Kennedy and unveiled at a speech to the National Press Club in 2005.

Paul Krugman summed up the merits of this terminology in a subsequent op-ed:

[“Medicare for all”] reminds voters that America already has a highly successful, popular single-payer program, albeit only for the elderly. It shows that we’re talking about government insurance, not government-provided health care.

Tom Geoghegan revisited the idea in 2007, complete with a hat tip to Mr. Krugman.

“One thing that Ronald Reagan proved is that people like big, simple ideas: In his era, the big simple idea was tax cuts, and in ours, the big simple idea should be “Medicare for all adults,” and “national coverage of children, too.” (I know it comes out to the same thing, but since single-payer is a big pill to swallow, it’s nice to cut it in two.) Above all, keep it simple. The Democrats seem to specialize in coming up with health-care plans that only Paul Krugman can understand.”

This issue was, of course, one of Tom’s major platforms in his recent run for Congress.

Socialized medicine? Not in my country. But Medicare for All? That sounds awfully American to me.