It’s a wonder how health care got minimal coverage during last year’s presidential campaign. During the 2019 Democrat candidates’ debates, we got to hear Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new “Medicare for All” plan, followed by Bernie Sanders’ call for a single payor system. But after closer examination, many asked how can we expand Medicare when we can’t even afford it now due to the exorbitant costs needed to cover all residents and the estimated huge tax increases to pay for it all. During which time, Sanders’ state of Vermont abandoned in 2014 its multi-year effort to implement America’s first statewide single-payer health system. When the debates were over in early 2020, most editorials deemed these plans unworkable, while COVID-19 completely detracted our attention on how we would overcome this dreadful virus and the resulting pandemic.
More so, once Vice President Biden and President Trump won their respective party’s nomination in 2020, the major focus was on how to deal with the continuing surge in COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations and associated deaths. In hindsight, it is totally understandable how the need for a new and workable health care agenda would become a backseat priority. Nevertheless, we need to refocus on: access to quality medical care; advancing research and teaching; overcoming social determinants that negatively impact the health status of many patient populations; continuing to deal with the opioid crisis; and reducing pharmaceutical costs. All still warrant a national health care plan that will provide adequate coverage at a reasonable cost and eventually improve Americans’ overall health.