Charles Krauthammer, a icon in conservative punditry and journalism, has recently written a series of articles and done television appearances espousing the “inevitability” of the US adopting a Single Payer system for health care.
He went as far to state in his March 30 Washington Post editorial, “The Road to Single Payer Health Care”, that, “A broad national consensus is developing that health care is indeed a right. This is historically new. And it carries immense implications for the future. It suggests that we may be heading inexorably to a government-run, single-payer system. It’s what Barack Obama once admitted he would have preferred but didn’t think the country was ready for. It may be ready now.”
He went on to several talk shows to discuss this position and it is an interesting admission.
This is a very different position for a diehard conservative such as Krauthammer, and even though it doesn’t display an outright endorsement from him, it warrants further study of Krauthammer and probably his background as well.
Krauthammer is partially paralyzed and has significant damage to his spinal column obtained from a diving accident in the early 1970’s. He also has a background in psychiatry and is the author of several psychiatric papers including one about bipolar disorder. He is a board certified psychiatrist who also has contributed to the creation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
This is interesting, because with this type of history, the man has had a major background in the U.S medical and mental health system, both as patient and doctor.
With this type of background, he is less of a easily discredited right wing blowhard, and more of someone who can have a reasoned analysis (at least on this subject).
Of course, he has not totally endorsed a Single Payer system, but mentioning it’s “inevitability” may just be him having to save face halfway because of his right wing pedigree.
If he came out as endorsing it, he would face a major backlash from much of his audience, and it would cause a lot of controversy with his conservative allies.
This may be pure speculation, but by choosing this middle ground, perhaps he’s being prescient but also (by default) endorsing something that the majority of the western world takes for granted.
It is somewhat similar to William F. Buckley’s surprise 2004 endorsement of marijuana decriminalization. In 2004, the National Review founder and editor (and famous Gore Vidal debater) came out for marijuana decriminalization much to the surprise of his audience.
Much of the wording of his first article discussing this cited the “popularity” of the idea of decriminalizing pot, relaying such statistics as “two of every five Americans, according to a 2003 Zogby poll cited by Dr. Nadelmann, believe “the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and make it illegal only for children.”
Buckley was ahead of the curve on this one, and to think that in a little over a decade state after state decriminalizing pot beyond the medical use that initially it was being approved for back then. Krauthammer may not be an outright supporter of Single Payer, but it’s undeniable that there has been a sea change in people’s (and perhaps his) perceptions regarding the future implementation of a single payer system in the United States.