By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit.
Senate Democrats, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, failed the test this week during the healthcare debate when they chose to remain silent rather than show support for National Improved Medicare for All. They chose “party unity” over sending a signal to the medical industrial complex and the movement for NIMA that they are serious about including Medicare for All as a solution to the healthcare crisis.
On Thursday, July 27, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced an amendment to the Senate attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would have replaced the ACA with HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. That amendment was brought to the Senate floor for a vote Thursday afternoon. This was a political stunt to force Democrats to go on record showing whether or not they support what is considered to be the gold standard by Medicare for All supporters.
An interesting fact is that residents of the town of Libby and Lincoln County in Montana were given Medicare for All in 2010 as part of the ACA. Sen. Max Baucus added it to the ACA because of widespread asbestos exposure that was causing a health crisis. This was the solution to their healthcare crisis and it is the solution to the national healthcare crisis.
In recent days and weeks, prominent Senators have publicly either stated support for single payer health care or have said that at the very least it should be “on the table.” This includes Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Thursday’s vote was an opportunity for them to walk the walk by voting for the HR 676 amendment. Medicare for all supporters called Senate offices before the vote urging them to vote “yes” on it as a way to indicate support. It was a safe vote because the Republican majority would not pass it.
I explained why this was important in a video urging support for the amendment here:
Instead of taking a position in solidarity with the NIMA movement, Senator Sanders led the way by saying that he would not vote for the amendment and urging other Senators to join him by voting “present.” This lack of courage to take a stance after campaigning so heavily on Medicare for All during his recent presidential campaign was disappointing to say the least. Senate Democrats chose political cover and party unity over solidarity with the movement for Medicare for All.
The Atlantic reports:
“Senator Bernie Sanders, the most popular progressive politician in the United States who supports a single-payer health-care system, denounced the amendment as a ‘political trick’ designed ‘to embarrass Democrats,’ ahead of the vote. His office had previously announced that even he would not be voting for it, giving Senate Democrats cover to reject the amendment as a political ploy.”
We conclude that Democrats are embarrassed to be seen supporting Medicare for All and that Senator Sanders is fulfillng his new role as leadership in the Democratic Party.
We know that neither plutocratic party in Congress supports National Improved Medicare for All. The Center for American Progress, a Democratic Party think tank (funded in part by the America Health Insurance Plans), is pushing another market-based proposal for health reform.
Just as people rose up across the country to stop the Republicans from passing legislation to take health care away from millions, we must rise up and demand nothing less than National Improved Medicare for All. Democrats showed which side they are on this week. Let’s not be fooled by their rhetoric and start demanding meaningful action.