Colin Powell Makes The Case For Universal Health Care

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Colin Powell, a retired general and the former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, made a strong endorsement for universal health care at a recent event for prostate cancer survivors.

“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 said at the Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast in Seattle. “(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 pointed out that other developed nations, like Canada and countries in Europe, extend government-funded health coverage to all of their citizens through a single-payer system. Democrats advocated for this type of system during the fight to pass health care reform, but ultimately couldn’t get bipartisan support for that type of legislation. The Affordable Care Act ended up relying on more conservative solutions, like the individual mandate — a policy first developed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation — to reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

“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,” the former Secretary of State continued. “I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on. Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”

Some Democratic lawmakers agree. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the most vocal proponents of universal health care back in 2010, introduced a bill on Monday that would require every state to implement a single-payer system.

Global economic leaders also echo Powell’s assessment. Last week, the president of the World Bank made the economic case for universal health care, pointing out that it’s an investment that actually ends up spurring growth and development. The World Bank and the World Health Organization are pushing for single-payer systems in every nation by 2030.

It’s not the first time that Powell, a Republican, has taken a stance on health issues that signals a departure from the rest of his party. Last year, he advocated to expand abortion access for members of the Peace Corps.