Single Payer

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

 

Back in the early 1990's, Bill and Hillary Clinton attempted an ambitious overhaul of the entire U.S. healthcare coverage system. Hillary was put in charge of the effort.

The backlash from the health insurance lobby was swift and furious, most infamously encapsulated in the form of the "Harry & Louise" attack ads, two of which I've posted above.

SIDENOTE: There's a lot going on here, especially in the 2nd ad:

There's a lot of fuss and bother yesterday about a brand-new report which tries to project what the costs and savings would be if Bernie Sanders' so-called "Medicare for All" proposal were to actually become law.

The biggest gnashing of teeth was over headlines like this one from CBS and this one from Axios screaming about how "IT WOULD COST $33 TRILLION!!!"

...which is, of course, incredibly disingenous and irresponsible on the face of it for several reasons, primarily because that's over a 10 year period.

 

Last month I posted a lengthy, deep-in-the-weeds analysis of Michigan Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed's state-based Single Payer healthcare proposal, dubbed "Michicare" (later changed to simply "MichCare").

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:

NOTE: The original post was getting to long/unwieldy so I've separated out my initial analysis of the proposal into this separate post.

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.

UPDATE: OK, it looks like El-Sayed's campaign has already released his plan details after all. I'm reading it over now and will update with my thoughts later today.

UPDATE Midnight Wednesday: Scroll down for my initial thoughts (more tomorrow)

Later today, Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed is expected to release his plan for a state-level single payer healthcare system for my home state of Michigan:

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.

Last month I wrote an extensive piece about Colorado's Amendment 69 initiative, aka "ColoradoCare", which would be the latest attempt to achieve a state-level single payer healthcare system (or at least near-single payer; if enacted, it would replace all current healthcare coverage except for Medicare, the VA/TriCare and the Indian Health Service).

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.

Many single payer advocates have been either confused or angry with me (to put it mildly) for not being a fan of Bernie Sanders's proposed national SP plan.

I've explained repeatedly that while I am a SP proponent, I just don't see it happening at the national level all at once. There are too many barricades and too many logistical, economic and political problems in doing so to make it remotely feasible to bring SP to the country in this fashion. In addition, I have major problems with the utter lack of detail in Bernie's plan.

HOWEVER, I've also repeatedly stated that I do strongly support getting the ball rolling at a smaller level first--either by partially expanding existing SP programs such as (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP); consolidating existing private systems into larger risk pools (ie, merging the risk pools of the individual & small group markets, as a few states have done already); and/or by getting SP enacted at the state level, then using that as a model for other states and/or as a national model if it works out.