My main point was that while most MFA activists have long insisted that eliminating (or virtually eliminating) private health insurance companies is not only a feature but the entire point of moving to single payer, ever since Kamala Harris walked back her “get rid of all that!” comment in a CNN Town Hall the next day, I’ve seen some MFA activists fall all over themselves to suddenly insist that “no, no...there’d still be plenty of room for private insurance, really!”
In September 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his "official" Medicare for All, universal single payer bill to much fanfare. At the time, it garnered a lot of attention, but it also had some gaping holes...most notably the lack of any actual funding mechanism or specifics, as well as a big coverage gap which could be found in both the "Medicare for America" bill which I'm a big fan of as well as the House MFA version.
Today, Sanders launched a revised version of the bill which supposedly addresses both of those issues along with others. Let's take a look.
First of all, who's co-sponsoring it? In 2017, it was cosponsored by 16 Democratic Senators:
Mr. Sanders (for himself, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Booker, Mr. Franken, Mrs. Gillibrand, Ms. Harris, Mr. Heinrich, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Markey, Mr. Merkley, Mr.Schatz, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Udall, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Whitehouse) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance
The official title of the bill is literally "The Medicare for All Act of 2019", and for the most part it's pretty similar to the Senate version rolled out in September 2017 by Sen. Bernie Sanders and a dozen or more Democratic Senators. However, there are several key differences between the two:
Early concept art has revealed a very different look for Toy Story's dynamic duo, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Pixar's first feature started life as a full-length take on their short Tin Story, which saw a mechanical drummer attempting to navigate his way through a baby's playroom. The drummer was soon ditched for a more glamorously conceived "space toy" named Lunar Larry, later renamed Buzz Lightyear in honour of famed astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
The original concept pitched its drummer against an antagonistic ventriloquist's dummy, who gradually evolved into a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody, inspired by Western actor Woody Strode.
Yes, Woody was originally the bad guy; though his character didn't prove popular with his voice actor Tom Hanks, who reportedly shouted "This guy is a jerk!" while recording lines for the story reel.
Yesterday I posted an entry which gained some attention in which I noted that yes, Bernie Sanders' specific single payer bill (aka "Medicare for All", S.1804) would in fact eliminate "nearly all" private healthcare insurance...and in fact, that's one of the primary selling points of the legislation in the first place. I wasn't arguing for or against the bill, mind you, I was just asking supporters to stop misleading people about this point.
Note: I'm going to use "Bernie-MFA" going forward instead of just "MFA" because the term "Medicare for All" has been turned into some sort of catch-all rallying cry for universal coverage even though there are major differences between some of the bills and proposals on the table, and on this subject it's important to be clear about which bill I'm talking about.
As the 2020 Presidential race starts to heat up, one of if not the biggest issue which will be on the minds of every Democratic candidate and primary voter will be about the Next Big Thing in U.S. Healthcare policy.
The ACA has done a fantastic job of expanding healthcare coverage to over 20 million more people, lowering or eliminating costs for millions of them, and completely changing the zeitgeist about what's acceptable (no longer acceptable: denying coverage to or discrimininating against those with pre-existing conditions). Unfortunately, while it was a major step forward, it was still only a step, and between its intrinsic limitations, original flaws and major incidents of sabotage both passive (refusal to expand Medicaid in many states) and active (the Risk Corridor Massacre, CSR cut-off, mandate repeal, etc), the Democratic base is hungry for a truly universal healthcare coverage system.
And so, the $64,000 question for every 2020 Democratic candidate is whether or not they support "Medicare for All"...and, as a subsection of that, do they insist on "Medicare for All" as the only way forward.
Later I noted that his primary opponent, former State Senator and County Prosecutor Gretchen Whitmer, has far thinner responses posted on her website when it comes to healthcare policy. I also noted that there are some good reasons for this which likely have nothing to do with being "a tool of the insurance lobby", a "neoliberal sellout" bla bla bla and so forth.
However, for the record, yes, Ms. Whitmer does indeed support universal healthcare coverage, as shown in the Q&A video clip above from one of her town hall appearances (thanks to Mary Bernadette Minnick Weatherly for the clip and the OK to repost it).
Below is a verbatim transcript of the whole exchange:
Yesterday, Michigan Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed publicly rolled out his vision for a state-based Single Payer healthcare system. I wrote up an overview yesterday. Below are my initial thoughts, based on reading both the summary and full version of the proposal as presented on El-Sayed's website.
A Democrat running for governor in Michigan is supporting a tax increase to pay for a statewide government-run health-care system, going further than his party’s candidates in other parts of the country who are also calling for expanded coverage.
OK, here it is. I've linked to a PDF with the full legislative text at the bottom of this blog entry; here's the summary version, with some notes:
TITLE I—ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNIVERSAL MEDICARE PROGRAM
Establishes a Universal Medicare Program for every resident of the United States, including the District of Columbia and the territories. Guarantees patients the freedom to choose their health care provider. Provides for the issuance of Universal Medicare cards that all residents may use to get the health care they need upon enrollment. Prohibits discrimination against anyone seeking benefits under this act.
OK, so it apparently would cover undocumented immigrants, and every doctor/hospital/clinic/etc. would be required to participate, with anyone in the country being covered by any healthcare provider nationally.
For the past year and a half, of all the proxy battles between "Team Hillary" and "Team Bernie" on the left side of the aisle, no issue has been more repsentative of both how passionate people are or how much each "side" misunderstands the other than the future of the American healthcare system.
"Team Bernie", in essence, consisted of progressives (and Democrats) who believe that while the ACA may have improved things to some degree in some ways, it not only isn't enough long-term, it isn't nearly enough short-term either; the next step (and for many, the only acceptable next step) must be moving the entire U.S. population over to a universal Medicare-style Single Payer system, with everyone in the country being covered through a single, comprehensive healthcare program funded entirely (or nearly entirely) by taxes.
While I was generally supportive of the idea overall, I also concluded that:
For me, however, ColoradoCare addresses many of the criticisms I've had of Bernie's plan. I'm not necessarily "endorsing" it (I still have a lot more to learn about the details and the criticisms before I can do so), but the bottom line is that it's more realistic and far better thought out than Bernie's national plan is. This is the best opportunity for achieving single payer that you're likely to see anytime soon.