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In Clear Sign of Progress for Medicare for All Advocates, Insurance and Pharma Giants Build Wall to Defeat Single-Payer

In Clear Sign of Progress for Medicare for All Advocates, Insurance and Pharma Giants Build Wall to Defeat Single-Payer

Julia Conley, staff writer

Just as many Democratic lawmakers have signed on in the past year as co-sponsors of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill, healthcare corporations are banding together to fight the swelling wave of support for a single-payer healthcare system.

Another obstacle to implementing genuine single-payer health care in the US----one that’s far more insidious than the clumsy propaganda of the profiteers—is conflating the Sanders bill with H.R. 676, as this article does.

This is disappointing.


I would not underestimate the power of the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance industry to stop any single payer plan. Look how they stopped Hillary Clinton’s universal health coverage plan in the early 1990s. It seemed to take forty or fifty years of trying to improve health coverage to get Obamacare and even then it took a Democratic senate majority of 60, a House majority, and a Democratic president to get it passed and it barely made it.

The last thing we need is Trump’s hands on 676/M4A. If the pressure continues to build he may actually try to pacify the public (think Obamacare) w/his own version of M4A. The fight is going to be over whether or not to implement single-payer (which would be free or near free at point of service–paid by progressive taxation, no deductibles, no premiums or co-pays) or modified Obamacare that depends on private insurers (the insured will still bear the burden of paying deductibles, premiums and co-pays). We’ve all seen how that worked.

NYTs has several links today to sites pushing single payer or M4A. From DISSENT:

Single-Payer or Bust

By providing a single tier of coverage to all, with automatic enrollment, comprehensive benefits, and no cost-sharing, single-payer provides a distinct, egalitarian vision of universality.

… The argument over “universal coverage” is basically over: there is now a broad consensus among liberals, leftists, and even some conservatives that expanding coverage is imperative.

… Germany. According to a 2017 report by the Commonwealth Fund , 86 percent of the German population is covered through one of 118 not-for-profit social health insurance (SHI) sickness funds, which have boards that are controlled by workers and employers. Other Germans—such as the self-employed and civil servants—are mostly covered by insurance companies, both profit and not-for-profit. Under SHI, there is no co-payment for doctors’ visits, and no more than a €10 co-pay for a prescription or a day in the hospital. Consider, then, what a transition to the German system would entail in the United States. We would have to ask the health-insurance industry to graciously agree to mostly being replaced by a system of not-for-profit funds that would be partially controlled by elected workers’ representatives. Insurer shareholders would thus be largely wiped out. This would be a shiv only slightly less sharp than single-payer to the industry. …

And it will never happen. Insurance and the pharmaceutical industry are not gonna willingly give up their share of the boondoggle they have going in the US healthcare market.

When the Dutch tried to institute an Obamacare type system in 2006 (and this is w/insurance markets being highly regulated (in a country where it means something, not the US)):

" Far from ushering in universal coverage, the 2006 proto-Obamacare Dutch law may have, at least at first, decreased coverage relative to the SHI system it replaced. “The process of implementing the new insurance regime has been complicated and difficult,” Kieke Okma and Luca Crivelli wrote in Health Policy in 2013. They note that following passage of the law, the percentage of those who were either uninsured or delinquent in their premium payments at first “went up sharply.”…"

Tommy Douglas (Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather) is the father of Canada’s public healthcare system.

As a child in Scotland, goes an oft-told tale he narrated to journalist Chris Higginbotham in 1958, Douglas one day tripped and fell on his knee, an injury that injected bacteria deep into his bone, causing a chronic infection called osteomyelitis. After multiple primitive surgeries performed by country doctors in Scotland, the infection was thought to have been cured, but after the Douglas family moved to Canada, it came back with a vengeance—and Douglas was told the leg would have to go. Fortunately, a prominent orthopedic surgeon at the children’s specialty hospital in Winnipeg agreed to take a stab at the infection—and, miraculously, succeeded in saving the child’s leg. Douglas would note that though he was grateful to this man, he also knew that had the prestigious physician not offered to perform the procedure for free, he would have lost his limb, for his family was strapped for cash. And he felt that no child should ever be put in such a position. “[O]ut of this experience,” Douglas said to Higginbotham, “I came to believe that health services ought not to have a price-tag on them, and that people should be able to get whatever health services they required irrespective of their individual capacity to pay.”


Her Highness’ program went nowhere, and we should be thankful. It was an even bigger mess than Obamacare is.

Who can ever forget Hillary’s weary and exasperated response – as head of the White House’s health reform initiative – to Harvard medical professor David Himmelstein in 1993. Himmelstein was head of Physicians for a National Health Program. He told the First Lady about the remarkable possibilities of a comprehensive, single-payer “Canadian-style” health plan, supported by more than two-thirds of the U.S. public. Beyond backing by a citizen super-majority, Himmelstein noted, single-payer would provide comprehensive coverage to the nation’s 40 million uninsured while retaining free choice in doctor selection and being certified by the Congressional Budget Office as the most cost-effective plan on offer. “David,” Hillary said as she dismissed Himmelstein, “ tell me something interesting .”



I wish I could agree, but at this point, we are in a fight to save Medicaid expansion, if not the program itself. Republicans have made it clear that if they retain Congress, they are going after it as well as the ACA’s subsidies. What’s worse is that they will have a court backing what they do administratively the entire way.

One of the most disingenuous arguments for the status quo. Time to redouble our efforts for true, single payer, Improved and Expanded Medicare For All.

You wrote: “… we are in a fight to save Medicaid expansion, if not the program itself. Republicans have made it clear that if they retain Congress, they are going after it as well as the ACA’s subsidies.”

Ds are in a perpetual fight. This refrain (“in a fight to save …”) happens every time the meanie Rs want to cut Medicare/Medicaid/SS/Social programs/food stamps/HUD programs for low income, ad nauseam. What you are missing is it’s in the Rs DNA to kick the poor in the teeth.

Year after year the democrats claim to be “in the fight of their lives trying to save [fill in the blank],” and nothing gets done. The program(s) the Ds were supposedly defending only get slightly cut, but cut more than the Rs expected ending up a gift to the right.

Isn’t it time the Ds start delivering instead of claiming to be “defending.” But heck, the Ds are much better at defense (if one can call it that, they’re still pretty lame) and monumentally lousy at governing. To wit: Obama put cuts to SS on the table, gave it all away. The Rs didn’t get anywhere near it (more seniors vote R than vote D). Perhaps that’s why Obama was so willing to throw 'em under the bus. He did the same thing w/the extension of Bush’s tax cuts. He began negotiations w/making the tax cuts permanent. Hard to tell some days whose side Obama was on. And some of y’all still think the self-professed “one we’ve all been waiting for” is a liberal/progressive.

As for saving ACA, steamroll it. Obamacare is rationed care, pure and simple. The bottom line: all healthcare in the US is rationed by one’s ability to pay.

Can’t afford Obamacare’s top tier premium care, well then buy the less expensive $10k/yearly deductible, $800 monthly premium, high co-pay for you and your family – you’re gonna have to rack up more than $10,000 out of pocket before insurance even kicks in, you’ll do this every year plus hand over to your insurer as much as $20,000 a year for insurance that’s too expensive to use. In an effort not to step on Big Insurance’s toes Obama created subsidies. That is, taxpayers picking up the tab for an overpriced product that the insured may not even be able to use due to the cost on their end. Insurance could not have fared any better under anyone else.