By Russell Mokhiber for Single Payer Action
It’s not a question of whether.
It’s a question of when.
With the accelerating collapse of Obamneycare, it’s only a matter of time.
Single payer is on the way.
But time matters for millions of Americans who are being squeezed by the Democrats defending Obamneycare and the Republicans cutting further into what’s left of the social safety net.
As Senator Bernie Sanders is proving, you have to choose — single payer or Obamneycare.
You can’t defend both.
They are incompatible.
During the 2016 primary election season, Bernie sided with the American people and single payer.
During the general election and since, Bernie settled in with the corporate Democrats and Ombaneycare.
Bernie has yet to introduce his single payer bill into the Senate — despite promises from his health care legislative assistant that he will do so.
(A Sanders aide told one single payer supporter that “Senator Sanders will definitely introduce a single payer bill in the Senate this Congress.” When asked to be more specific, the aide told the caller they can’t be more specific “because we don’t want to give the opposition time to organize against the bill.”)
And at a town CNN healthcare debate with Senator Ted Cruz earlier this year, Bernie embarrassed himself when he was asked a question by a small business owner in Texas.
LaRonda owns five hair salons in Texas and employs just under 50 workers. She keeps it under 50 because under Ombaneycare, more than 50 workers means that she has to buy them health insurance.
“How do I employ more Americans without either raising the prices to my customers or lowering wages to my employees?” LaRonda asked Sanders.
Sanders could have answered – “Well LaRonda, if we had my preferred plan – single payer – you wouldn’t have to bankrupt yourself by buying defective high priced health insurance from for profit health insurance companies. Under my plan, every American at birth gets a birth certificate and a Medicare card. They would be covered and you can hire employees to your heart’s content.”
Instead, Bernie answered with this:
“Let me give you an answer you will not be happy with. If you have more than 50 people, you know what, I think — I’m afraid to tell you — I think you will have to provide health insurance.”
The single payer bill in the House (HR 676) now has 65 co-sponsors. But it’s a rare single payer supporter in Congress who has mentioned it during the ongoing heated debate over the repeal of Obmaneycare.
And many single payer supporters in Congress refuse to co-sponsor HR 676.
One of those is Congressman Don Beyer (D-Virginia).
When asked why he refuses to co-sponsor HR 676, a spokesperson for Beyer said “Congressman Beyer supports securing affordable healthcare for all Americans.”
“One avenue to that is through a single payer system, a concept he has voiced support for in the past,” the spokesperson said. “This Congress however, with President Trump and Republican majorities in the House and Senate committed to decimating the Affordable Care Act and our Medicare and Medicaid systems, his immediate priority is protecting the healthcare achievements of President Obama.”
The Democrats are pursuing this losing strategy around the country through groups like Indivisible.
Local meetings are being led by professional mediators who are asking questions like — how do you keep people who disagree with you from leaving the group?
At one meeting last week in West Virginia, it was clear that the majority of the people in the room were former Sanders supported who didn’t vote for Clinton.
“That’s why Trump’s President,” said one Clinton supporter. “And that’s why Richard Nixon became President in 1968 because the anti-war Democrats didn’t vote for Hubert Humphrey.”
No blame on Humphrey and Clinton.
It was the anti-war Democrats and the Bernie supporters who caused the problem.
Indivisible was created by beltway Democrats who want to keep the party from fracturing or collapsing.
But the birth of single payer may see the death of the Democratic Party.
And some, like former Bernie staffer Nick Brana, hope that it does.
Brana (draftbernie.org) wants Bernie to bolt the Democratic Party and create a new party — one devoted to issues, like single payer, that made Bernie popular in the first place.
But Bernie is too comfortable with the likes of Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leadership and the beltway Democrats.
That doesn’t mean that a successful single payer third party effort can’t win in 2020.
Last week, Dallas Mavericks owner and rumored presidential hopeful Mark Cuban came out for single payer.
And Cuban has the billions in the bank to make ballot access a slam dunk.
In a recent letter to HR 676 lead sponsor John Conyers (D-Michigan), Ralph Nader wondered out loud “why the 64 members of the House who have signed on to HR 676 – the single payer/full Medicare for all legislation – have not individually or collectively put this proposal on the table.”
“Since the media is all over the drive by the Republicans to replace or repair or revoke Obamacare, there is an obvious opening to make HR 676 part of the national and Washington dialogue. After all, this proposal is more comprehensive, more humane, more efficient and greatly simpler for the millions of Americans who are fed up with complexity and trap door fine-print. Your 64 or more cosigners come from around the country, where they can make news locally on a health insurance policy that is supported by about 60 percent of the American people, according to a recent Pew survey. When 60 percent of the American people can support single payer without a major effort to publicize and support it by the Democratic Party, that’s a pretty good start wouldn’t you say?”
“In today’s Wall Street Journal, no friend of single payer, the lengthy lead editorial closes with these words: ‘The healthcare market is at a crossroads. Either it heads in a more market-based direction step by step or it moves toward single-payer step by step. If Republicans blow this chance and default to Democrats, they might as well endorse single-payer because that is where the politics will end up.’”
“Do the Wall Street Journal corporatist editorial writers have more faith in the energy and initiative of the cosigners of your bill than the cosigners of your bill do?” Nader asked. “At long last, let’s get going on HR 676 besides nominal support by its cosigners.”