Colin Powell Supports Single-Payer Healthcare System

Monday, 09 Dec 2013 08:58 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who riled Republicans with his support of both of Barack Obama's presidential election bids, is now championing another Democratic goal: a single-payer healthcare system.

"I think universal healthcare is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen," Powell told the Puget Sound Business Journal. "Whether it’s Obamacare or son of Obamacare, I don't care. As long as we get it done."

Powell, who has battled searing criticism that he's abandoned the GOP, says it's other Republicans who have changed, not he.

"In recent years, there's been a significant shift to the right, and we have seen what that shift has produced: two losing presidential campaigns," Powell told NBC's "Meet The Press" in January.

"I'm a moderate, but I'm still a Republican," Powell said. "And until I voted for Obama twice, I voted for seven straight Republican presidents."

The former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman told the journal he's come to his healthcare position after "55 years of public life" — and after very personal healthcare crises.

"I am not an expert in healthcare, 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 healthcare in my 55 years of public life," Powell told the journal after a visit in Seattle to an annual "survivors celebration breakfast" 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," he said, referring to those countries' single-payer system, in which the government picks up the costs of healthcare.

Some Democrats fought — and lost — a battle to get a single-payer system in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Powell spoke at the Seattle lunch about a woman named Anne, his firewood supplier, who faced a healthcare scare of her own and asked Powell for help paying her medical bills because her insurance didn't cover an MRI as a prerequisite for treatment of a growth in her brain, the business journal reported.

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?" Powell said.

"We are a wealthy-enough country with the capacity to make sure that every one of our fellow citizens has access to quality healthcare," he said.

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