By Russell Mokhiber for Single Payer Action
The corporate Democrats are using the public option to derail the newly energized movement to single payer.
The single payer movement is halfway to passing single payer in the House of Representatives.
One hundred and nine members of the House, out of a total of 218 needed for passage, have signed on the HR 676, the House single payer bill.
And single payer remains the hot topic at Congressional town halls meetings.
But the dominant corporate wing of the Democratic Party wants nothing to do with it.
That was made clear once again last week when a number of Democrats took to the microphones to savage President Trump and his repeal and replace push.
Attending the press conference were Senators Ron Wyden (Oregon), Patty Murray (Washington), Chris Murphy (Connecticut), and House members Bobby Scott (Virginia), Cheri Bustos (Illinois), Frank Pallone (New Jersey) and Richard Neal (Massachusetts).
It was typical Democratic rhetoric – totally ignoring the 109 Democrats in the House who had signed onto single payer.
Toward the end of the press conference, the Democrats were asked whether any of them supported single payer and whether any of them would join their 109 colleagues in the House who had signed on.
None of the Democrats at the press conference came up to the microphone to support single payer, although one of them, Bobby Scott, is a co-sponsor of HR 676.
Senator Murphy, the Senator from Connecticut, home to the private health insurance industry, was the first to pull out the public option deflection.
“I understand there is another conversation happening for an ultimate replacement for the existing health care system,” Murphy said. “But we are focused on stopping this (Republican) legislation because it is a real, current threat to our constituents.”
“Speaking for myself, I’m a supporter of the public option,” Murphy said. “Giving consumers the choice to join a Medicare system or stay with private insurance is the best way to go. That’s my preference. And let people choose.”
Wyden said that “any state that wants to set up their own public option using (Obamacare section 1332) has the legal authority to do it.”
When asked whether he was opposed to single payer, Wyden said that “a number of states are trying to do single payer as well through 1332.”
“Right now, I want to get on to the business at hand, particularly to hold down prescription drug costs and hold down insurance bills,” Wyden said. “And in places where there is only one insurance choice – and there are some of those – a state could set up a public option and they could move right away to do it.”
Single payer activists weren’t buying the public option.
“I call the public option what it really is, the profiteer’s option, because it is a relief valve for the private insurers,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of Health Over Profit. “They will keep the healthiest enrollees and the public option will attract people who need health care.”
“We can’t delay the solution to our healthcare crisis,” Flowers said. “If Democrats want public support, they need to get more active in advocating for single payer. Those who don’t will show the public that they are on the wrong side of this issue.”
Kevin Zeese of Health Over Profit said that “the Democratic Party leadership is out of touch with the majority of Democrats in the House who have signed on to HR 676 and with the super majority of their voters who support National Improved Medicare for All.”
“It’s not a surprise that Senator Wyden is representing the medical industry and not the people by introducing a public option,” Zeese said. “Senator Wyden is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, the most corrupt committee in the Senate.”