The Short Version: Single-Payer Health Care

The Short Version: Single-Payer Health Care

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Recently Cleo focused on DACA and examines options to replace the act. This week, the debate is about whether or not a single-payer system be the goal for American health care.

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

“I love getting feedback every week—thank you! If you want come hang out, debate a thing or two, and meet other Shorties, check out Short Events,” says Cleo.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

This week, Senator Bernie Sanders put forward a bill to give all Americans free health insurance.

The bill proposes that the federal government become the “single payer” of health care expenses, instead of the many different payers (private insurance companies, the federal government, state governments, etc) involved in our current health care system.

In this single-payer system, Americans’ taxes would pay their medical bills, as opposed to payroll deductions or personal wealth. That’s where things get tricky, because Sanders has not yet outlined how we would pay for virtually all medical care for 325 million people.

Why is it important?

Today, 155 million Americans receive health insurance through their employer, but the employer-funded system wasn’t inevitable. In fact, you could say it was a historical accident. During World War II, President Roosevelt issued an executive order that prevented businesses from raising wages. The goal was to prevent inflation during the war. But it had an unintended effect: businesses began using benefits like health care to attract workers. In 1943, when the IRS made employer-provided health insurance tax deductible, it became the cheapest way a person could finance their health care. All this to say, our system isn’t perfect and it wasn’t preordained.

It’s unlikely Sanders’ bill will pass, but that’s not really the key factor in this debate. More fundamentally, Sanders is trying to set up single-payer health care as our new goal for American health care. It begs the question…

Debate it!

Should a single-payer system be the goal for American health care?


Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Over nine years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance.

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:


Cleo Abram 2


Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Recently, Cleo returned to school, studying video storytelling at Columbia Journalism School.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.


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