Push for Medicare for All Begins

A major push for single-payer health insurance has begun in the wake of the defeat of the Republicans’ “Obamacare light” health insurance proposal. Not surprisingly U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is leading the charge for Medicare for All.

Sanders is planning to introduce a single-payer bill in the Senate and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Vermont) are co-sponsoring Medicare for All in the House, The Huffington Post reported. Several left-wing groups including; the Working Families Party, The Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Social Security Works, Credo and the National Nurses United (NNU) union, voiced their support.

Single payer supporters face an uphill battle in Congress because a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in both houses oppose the concept. Only one Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) is publicly supporting Bernie’s plan. Around 72 members of the House are supporting the idea. Even though polls indicate that most Americans support the idea.

The NNU, Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress have created an online petition demanding that Democrats support Medicare for All. The petition had 26,376 signatures as of March 27, 2017.

Does Trump Support Single Payer Healthcare?

So apparently does President Trump; who endorsed the concept in his 2000 book The America we Deserve, as U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) pointed out at a Budget Committee meeting. Trump has not said whether he still endorses single-payer but he made an intriguing Tweet that shows he might be leaning that way.

“ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2017”

Trump did not say what the “great healthcare plan for the American people” was but it sure sounds like Single Payer. The problem that faces is that Congressional Republicans want nothing do with it.

Strangely enough Trump might be right about Obamacare here because the exchanges are collapsing in a number of states. Major health insurance companies including UnitedHealth (NYSE: UHC) have been pulling out of the exchanges, so the President might be right.

That situation would play straight into the hands of Bernie and other single payer backers, as Trump understands. The President also correctly understands that moderate Democrats; like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), will ultimately take the blame for its failure clearing the way for a far left takeover of the Party.

Single Payer in California State Legislature

A bill that would create a state single payer system has been introduced in California’s state legislature, The LA Times reported.

Senate Bill 562 sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would create a “universal, single-payer healthcare program” that would replace private insurance with a public plan. The measure has the support of the California Nurses Association; but it does not identify a source of funding, Health Leaders Media reported.

It is not clear how serious Lara is, his bill might simply be a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to his plans to run for the State Insurance Board. Lara is not the only politician backing single payer in the Golden State, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is promoting a similar plan.

California’s legislature passed a single payer bill back in 2006 but it was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last year Colorado voters rejected an ambitious proposal for a single-payer health insurance system. Single payer backers face an uphill battle in California because the current governor Jerry Brown; a Democrat. is also cool to the idea, The Sacramento Bee reported.

A serious effort for Single-Payer health insurance is on in the United States. Whether the demise of Trumpcare and the problems with Obamacare will drive it to success remains to be seen.