From The Atlantic
strip me of insurance if old
Emboldened by Hillary Clintons 2016 defeat, and the Republican effort to dismantle former President Barack Obamas signature health-care law, progressive lawmakers and activists are trying to move single payer into the party mainstream. There are signs the idea is winning traction: For the first time ever, a majority of House Democrats have signed up to support Medicare for all single-payer legislation, a threshold crossed in the aftermath of the presidential election. A number of influential Senate Democrats have also expressed support for single payer in the midst of the current Republican health-care push, which is now in doubt as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushes for an Obamacare repeal vote.
If youre serious about real health-care reform, it has got to be on the agenda, and I would hope that as many Democrats as possible support it, Senator Bernie Sanders said in a recent interview after a rally against the GOP health-care bill in Kentucky, where he promised that as soon as we defeat this terrible Republican proposal, he would introduce his own Medicare-for-all legislation. Its going to be a tough fight, Sanders said, but it is a fight that has to be waged, because it is the only rational solution to the health-care crisis that we face.
Sanders, the most popular figure on the American left, has used his higher post-election profile to advocate for single payer, while progressive firebrand Senator Elizabeth Warren has called single payer the next step for the party. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has publicly said that we should have Medicare for all. Senator Kamala Harris, frequently buzzed about as a rising star in the party, recently told a crowd in her home state of California that as a concept, Im completely in support of single payer, though she added the caveat: but weve got to work out the details, and the details matter on that.
Advocating universal health-insurance coverage also has the advantage of creating a stark contrast to the legislation Republicans in Congress have spent months attempting to enact, which non-partisan analysts have estimated would leave millions of Americans without health insurance.
Its not just about single payer, its about inclusionary politics, Democratic Representative Peter Welch said in an interview. Its about a government that has policies that are going to work for everyone, not just a select few. Thats really the heart of the message. Its broader than just health care.
The fact that Sanders gave Clinton a serious challenge while running on a platform that advocated Medicare for all has also created momentum. The Vermont senators campaign created visibility for the issue, and Clintons defeat in the general election has emboldened the partys progressive wing to argue even more strongly that a centrist, incrementalist approach to Democratic politics is not the answer as the party seeks to rebuild.
Bernie Sanderss candidacy helped catapult single payer back to prominence in the Democratic Party. He is the only serious contender for the presidential nomination to back single-payer in the past quarter century, said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy and management at the University of North California-Chapel Hill.
As Democrats in Congress hold out the possibility of single payer, there is evidence that public opinion has moved in favor of such a system among Democratic voters. A majority of Democrats, at 52 percent, support the idea of providing health coverage through a single, national insurance program run by the government, according to a June poll from the Pew Research Center. The poll found that the percentage of Democrats who support that idea had grown by 19 percentage points since 2014. Pew also reported that the share of Americans who say health coverage is a government responsibility remains at its highest level in nearly a decade.
If Democrats controlled Congress, and the presidency, there would still be challenges to any kind of single-payer push, not least among them the question of how expensive it would be. Attempts to implement single payer in California and Vermont, liberal stronghold states, have run aground amid contentious debates over the cost required for implementation.
For now, Democrats who support single payer will keep making the case for the idea in the hopes of convincing party leadership, and whoever runs for the White House in 2020 that its a winning issue. Democratic Representative Ro Khanna suggested in a recent interview that future candidates may be able to argue that while Trump has made ambitious health-care promiseslike his vow of insurance for everybodyonly Democrats, running on single payer, will be able to deliver on the pledge of universal coverage.
What the first person who runs in 2020 ought to say to Donald Trump is ...you promised the American people more benefits, less costs, more coverage, and you didnt deliver. You know as well as we know that the answer is single payer. So, why are you not supporting Medicare for all?, Khanna said in an interview. Thats a great attack, and a great message, he added. My view is that this is really going to become the platform of the Democratic Party.
strip me of insurance if old