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I assumed Tim Faust’s Twitter Avi was a joke when I heard him talk health care on Chapo Trap House. With a friendly, nerdy and Midwestern voice, he was the first health care expert I’d ever heard who brought clarity to the subject. He sounded like a one-scene character in Fargo, only hyped up on caffeine.
But the goofy cartoon metalhead picture is an accurate representation. He’s a metalhead. But he’s a metalhead with a passion for healthcare justice.
“[Health care] is all I talk about, basically all the time,” Faust says. “A lot of my friends are healthcare policy professionals, so I’ll text them at, like 11 p.m. on a Friday with questions like what’s the deal with physicians’ salaries in Korea. And he’ll text me back and I’ll read the paper at the bar. That’s how I live my my life and I like it.”
As The New Republic recently noted, single-payer is an area where progressive politics has outstripped policy. Leftists have been hungry for someone who can explain the problems with healthcare plainly and humanely.
It helps that Faust is no boring Washington D.C. policy worker. He’s a heavy metal fan, a gamer and Dungeons & Dragons player (he met Chapo Trap House co-host Virgil Texas through D&D) and the general manager of World Party Rasslin’, one of America’s largest independent wrestling leagues, growing from a backyard party goof in 2014 into a regularly held spectacle drawing 1,800 people per show today.
“My main style of speaking is wrestling,” he told me after a Democratic Socialists of America meeting in Dover, NJ. That’s my main vernacular and I love it. In my big talks, I use my wrestling voice. And it’s pretty boom-y.”
Since his first appearance on Chapo Trap House in April, Faust has shared his vision of health care justice with medical professionals and Democratic Socialists of America members in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
His talks are generous in details about the Byzantine failures underpinning America’s health care system. But they’re also engaging, funny and driven by urgent moral clarity.
His message is simple. America spends a staggering amount of money on healthcare. We’re just not spending it wisely. As a result, our health care quality remains low compared to other modern countries. We have less access to preventive care and shorter stays in hospitals than other countries but pay more for worse care.
“All the incentives are aligned in the worst possible way,” Faust says. That’s why there’s a lot of waste. The waste isn’t solved by spending less, it’s solved by spending it better.”
As he laid out in a Jacobin article, “A Plan to Win Universal Healthcare,” he believes America should expand the federal and state health programs that already exist. Once programs like Medicaid and Medicare cover vastly more people, those programs would have increased negotiating power to drive down the cost of care and be able to set prices for care and services. It would be an existential change for healthcare insurance. But, Faust stresses, it would not be the job destroyer single payer critics claim.
“Under single payer, we’re still going to have massive infrastructure needs,” he says.
With the foundations of a universal health care system set, we could explore new models of care and tailor them to different regions of the country. And we’d have a healthier, more just America.
“It works everywhere else,” he said.
Links to Faust’s appearances on Chapo Trap House are below.