Daily Pulse: “I Love My Socialist Kidney”

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Daily Pulse: “I Love My Socialist Kidney”

Lindsay E. Beyerstein

To most Americans, single-payer health care seems like political science fiction, but most don’t realize we already have single-payer options: Medicare (for the aged) and Medicaid (for the poor). Jennifer Nix knows first hand about single payer....

This article appears in partnership with The Media Consortium, of which Rewire is a member organization.

Lindsay Beyerstein interviews Jennifer Nix: Listen here. Nix is a journalist and the publisher of Guernica Magazine. She published an essay in Salon this week about her personal and political history with single-payer health care titled “I Love My Socialist Kidney.”

To most Americans, single-payer health care seems like political
science fiction; a bold idea that could never happen here. Most people
don’t realize that the U.S. already has single-payer options for
certain groups of people. The familiar examples are Medicare (for the
aged) and Medicaid (for the poor). My guest Jennifer Nix knows first
hand about another group of Americans who get single payer health care:
Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who need dialysis or
kidney transplants.

In 2008, Nix learned that she had inherited the same cystic kidney
disease that nearly killed her father in the early seventies. In 1972,
Wayne Nix was a young schoolteacher with two small children, a new
mortgage, and renal failure. Dialysis was astronomically expensive and
private insurers refused to cover patients with ESRD. Luckily for the
Nix family, activists successfully lobbied to create Medicare ESRD, a
program that has since helped over 1 million Americans survive with
ESRD since 1973, regardless of their ability to pay.

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Amazingly, the program enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the
seventies. It was assumed that covering ESRD patients was just a
stop-gap to tide them over until universal health care covered
everyone. Even Republican president Richard Nixon was on board with the
idea. As we all know, we’re still waiting for universal health care.
Luckily, when Jennifer Nix found out she needed a kidney transplant,
the Medicare ESRD was still there for her. If single-payer works for
one disease, Nix argues, why shouldn’t all Americans enjoy the same
health security?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. Visit Healthcare.newsladder.net
for a complete list of articles on health care affordability, health
care laws, and health care controversy. For the best progressive
reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net and Immigration.Newsladder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

Topics and Tags:

Health-Care Reform, Medicaid, Medicare