By Alex Lazar
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has waded into the health care debate with a broad endorsement of the kind of universal health plan found in Europe, Canada and South Korea.
“I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life,” Powell said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, last week at an annual “survivors celebration breakfast” in Seattle for those who, like Powell, have battled prostate cancer. “And I don’t see why we can’t do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing.”
Europe, Canada and Korea all have a “single-payer” system, in which the government pays for the costs of health care.
Some Democrats who strongly advocated for, and failed to get, a single-payer system in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, still believe the current law doesn’t go far enough to reform the US health system.
A retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell told the audience about a woman named Anne, who as his firewood supplier, faced a healthcare scare of her own. Anne asked Powell to help pay for her healthcare bills, as her insurance didn’t cover an MRI she needed as a prerequisite to being treated for a growth in her brain. In addition, Powell’s wife Alma recently suffered from three aneurysms and an artery blockage. ”After these two events, of Alma and Anne, I’ve been thinking, why is it like this?” said Powell.
“We are a wealthy enough country with the capacity to make sure that every one of our fellow citizens has access to quality health care,” Powell. “(Let’s show) the rest of the world what our democratic system is all about and how we take care of all of our citizens.”
Powell, who has taken heat from Republicans for twice endorsing President Obama’s election and reelection bids, said he hopes universal healthcare can one day become a reality in the U.S. ”I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen,” said Powell. ”Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”