Forget 'Medicare for All.' Mayor Pete Wants to Give Health Care a Social-Justice Overhaul
Medicare for All is so 2019. After Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Left of Karl Marx) disastrous attempt to finance her plan for socialized medicine without taxing the middle class (wink wink, nod nod), Democrats are moving to the "center" (i.e. the less ridiculous left) and proposing their own "Medicare for All Who Want It" public option plans. Yet Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice) has his own social-justice twist on health care — complete with a very confusing mantra.
"The freedom to live a healthy life is an essential part of the American promise—yet millions find their health determined by who they are or where they live," Mayor Pete tweeted. "I will make achieving health equity a strategic priority during my first 100 days in office."
Yes, he suggested that people are struggling to live healthy lives because of "who they are." In fact, Buttigieg used the same language in the official announcement for his social-justice health care plan, entitled "Health Equity & Justice in America."
In that plan, he laments that "millions of Americans today still find their health determined by who they are or where they live."
This language could mean any of a million things, especially when it comes to health. People have genetic dispositions to certain diseases or health problems — heart disease runs in my family, for instance. Is Mayor Pete promising freedom from a person's genes?
Sometimes, people are genetically disposed to unhealthy habits they would like to break. Is Buttigieg pushing habit-control on a federal level? Is he trying to change a person's nature to make him or her more healthy, in the name of freedom?
Thankfully, he has nothing quite so Orwellian in mind. At least not yet...
As with so many confusing phrases on the modern left, this "who they are" language is a reference to "systemic discrimination."
"Our national health care and public health systems do not equitably serve all communities. For example, people of color and members of other minority groups have been—through both negligence and intention—excluded from these systems," the plan explains.
Naturally, Mayor Pete manages to alienate conservatives — and some moderates — by advocating for taxpayer funding for abortion and opposing Medicaid work requirements. He condemns opposition to these policies as racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic/ableist/anti-flavor-of-the-week-interest-group, et cetera.
"The Hyde Amendment, for example, primarily denies women of color access to essential reproductive health care services. Several states have sought to enact Medicaid work requirements, which will disproportionately deprive women with children and people with disabilities from accessing health care," his plan warns. "We are long overdue in transforming our health care and public health systems not toward neutrality, but toward anti-racism, -misogyny, -homophobia, -ableism, and -xenophobia" (emphasis original).
While this social justice advocacy is stifling, it is based on some tragic disparities. Buttigieg's plan notes that "a Black man living in a rural community today can expect to live seven years less than a white man living in a city. An Asian American is more likely to die from certain types of cancer than a person who belongs to any other racial or ethnic group. A Latino is 20 percent more likely to develop diabetes than someone who is not Latino. A lesbian is more than twice as likely to have mental illness than her straight peers. A person with a disability is almost four times more likely to have heart disease than a person without a disability. And a Native or Black woman is over two times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than a white woman."
These disparities are tragic, but are they the result of a biased health care system or a complex array of causes tracing back to genetics, diet, and exercise?
Rather than considering the possibility that these disparities have a wide range of causes, Mayor Pete attributes them to discrimination and suggests that economic disparities are also rooted in discrimination.
His plan calls for a public health infrastructure fund aimed at supporting state and local health departments with a federal contribution starting at $500 million. It also demands additional training of health care professionals to "identify and reduce bias" in the health care system and extra funding for research into curing diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations. The program would set up "Health Equity Zones" in order " to empower communities to combat their most pressing disparities and transform our under-resourced public health system."
Much of this kind of work is already being done. The federal government spends roughly $28 billion on HIV/AIDS research every year. The Office of Minority Health in the Department of Health and Human Services has an annual budget of $57 million.
In some cases, the "discrimination" Mayor Pete wants to fight involves a disagreement about the nature of biology and health care itself. One form of "discrimination" involves "a health clinic staffed by providers lacking training on how to appropriately care for a transgender person."
People who identify as transgender should receive appropriate medical care, but that does not necessarily involve dangerous experimental treatments to confirm their mistaken identity as a member of the opposite sex. Some drugs that would help a biological woman will actually harm a biological man and vice versa.
In fact, a pregnant woman who showed up at a hospital with abdominal pains actually lost her baby because she identified as a man and the hospital ruled out the possibility of pregnancy.
While Buttigieg did not mean to promise people freedom from "who they are," in the case of transgender identity, his plan aims to do something like that. He intends to cement into medicine the mistaken approach to "health care" that involves pumping males with estrogen and females with testosterone, giving children experimental drugs to "block" puberty, and removing perfectly healthy genitals and replacing them with what one former transgender person called a "Frankenstein hack job." Any disagreement from this is "discrimination" in Mayor Pete's book.
When the 2020 Democratic race started, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Jailing My Political Opponents) seemed the natural candidate for the social-justice wing. Yet as Harris fades, Buttigieg has emerged as a far more serious contender. He has mastered the lingo, brought on some black campaign strategists, and mastered the appeal to Twitterverse social-justice millennials.
Yet this full-court press on social justice issues is unlikely to appeal to the black voters Buttigieg needs to win over from former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Obama Successor). While Mayor Pete constantly misquotes scripture in an attempt to harangue the religious right and appeal to religious liberals, black voters are skeptical about an openly gay white millennial with a checkered history on race, perhaps especially when he is promising them the moon.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.