Medicare for All at the Polls

The popularity of “Medicare for All,” the Democratic euphemism for single-payer health insurance, will be put to the test in two governor’s elections this year.

The most interesting test case will be in Michigan where two Medicare for All supporters will face an outspoken single-payer opponent in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. That race will tell us how strong support for single-payer is among the party’s base.

The establishment candidate; Gretchen Whitmer, is a political ally of the health insurance industry who calls single-payer unrealistic, The Intercept reported. Her opponents “outsider businessman” Shri Thanedar and Doctor Abdul El-Sayed trumpet their support for single payer.

Single Payer may Determine Colorado Governor’s Race

In Colorado, U.S. Representative Jarred Polis (D-Boulder) will face Walker Stapleton (R-Denver) in the general election for governor. Single payer is an issue here because Polis has made it a centerpiece of his campaign. Likewise, Stapleton has made his opposition to “socialized medicine” a key talking point.

The outcome of the Colorado Governor’s race might tell us how much voters really care about the issue. Particularly since it is all the two candidates seem to want to talk about.

These two races may determine if Medicare for All is a key political issue or simply a fringe concept. One thing is certain popular frustration with America’s partially dysfunctional health insurance system is spilling over to the polls.

How Single Payer can Blow the Trump Movement Apart

Single-payer might be the issue that blows the Trump Administration and the Republican Party apart. Strangely enough, the person Trump put in charge of Medicare seems to oppose government-administered health insurance.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, delivered an attack on single-payer straight out of a campus Republican club debate, The Hill reported. Verma denounced Medicare for All as “Medicare for none” and “socialized healthcare” in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Such statements seemingly put Verma in conflict with 68% of Republicans who think the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage. The Pew Research Center reported that 68% of Republicans and Republican sympathizers; and 85% of Democrats and Democrat leaners, believe Uncle Sam should “ensure healthcare.”

Tellingly, only 33% of Americans admitted to supporting Single Payer in the Pew poll. That indicates Americans are uncomfortable with the notion, and Verma’s position has popular appeal.

Strangely enough one of the 33% of Americans, Verma is in conflict with is her supposed boss, Donald J. Trump. Historically, Trump has been an outspoken supporter of single-payer healthcare.

As President he’s basically ignored the issue, while labeling U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) single-payer proposal a “curse.” Note: Trump did not abandon single payer he merely criticized Sanders’ proposal for it.

Do Trump Voters want Single Payer?

A greater problem for Republicans will be Trump voters that like the idea of Single Payer. Intriguingly, Vox found more than a few Trump supporters that agreed with statements like “healthcare is a human right.”

Such reporting and polls raise serious doubts about the ideas that there is a Trump movement and the notion that Trump is the GOP’s leader. A notion to consider is that Trump is the Republicans’ figurehead who does not represent the party or even his own administration.

The split on issues shows that Republicans might be in real trouble if the Trump agenda of immigration restrictions and tariffs fails to produce any economic results. A big problem for the GOP is that trade and immigration seem to be the only issues with popular appeal that the party has.

That certainly puts Republicans at a disadvantage in states with few manufacturing jobs – like Colorado. The anti-immigration stance will make the GOP a tough sell in increasingly multicultural suburbs.

Diehard opposition to single-payer makes the serious conflicts between working-class Trump Republicans and establishment figures like Verma and Stapleton inevitable. Especially if Trump concludes single-payer is vital to his reelection in 2020.

Why Republicans will Back “Single-Payer Lite”

Healthcare might be issue that lures many Trump voters back into the Democratic fold.

Health insurance affects people in their day-to-day lives. Immigration and trade are largely theoretical issues, even for those who feel strongly about them.

A smart move for Republicans might be to accept some sort of watered down single-payer. Examples of this “single-payer lite” include; extending Medicare to those over 50 or 55, allowing private individuals to buy Medicare or Medicaid policies, letting organizations buy Medicare or Medicaid policies for their employees, or single payer for individuals that make less than $60,000 a year.

Such proposals would cover a large percentage of or most Trump voters; without implementing full “socialized medicine,” or threatening the private health insurance of wealthy GOP donors. That makes “single-payer lite” a smart option for Republican politicians like Trump who need working-class votes.

Interestingly, Republicans like Verma are not that far from single-payer lite in their current position. The Medicare Administrator admits that the government should provide health insurance for seniors and the disabled.

One has to wonder who will be the first Republican leader to drink the single-payer Kool Aid. My money is on Donald J. Trump who personally favors the idea. My prediction is that Trump will unveil some sort of single-payer lite proposal if he plans to run for reelection in 2020.