Without a doubt, momentum within the Democratic party has shifted toward single-payer over the past year. When Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer bill in the Senate back in 2009, it had no other cosponsors; now, just eight years later, 16 Democratic senators have endorsed the updated version, including potential presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand. In the other chamber, more than 60% of House Democrats have endorsed a similar single-payer plan.
Another sign that the party establishment is taking single-payer seriously: the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank with close ties to the Clinton campaign (it’s current CEO, Neera Tanden, and its founder, John Podesta, were both Hillary advisors) just released a detailed plan for universal healthcare, which its calling Medicare Extra for All. It isn’t quite single-payer, but it would move our healthcare system pretty far in that direction.
Although not far enough for some apparently– Adam Gaffney, secretary of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), has already called CAP’s proposal a “second-rate scheme” that “would exact sacrifices from patients to placate the insurance industry, and could serve to divert the single-payer movement.” On Twitter, the organization People for Bernie, drew a line in the sand, saying that any Democrat who backed it would be “ignoring the will of the party’s activists.”
It’s weird watching single-payer supporters attack CAP’s proposal right out of the gate, since not only would it put the U.S. on the path to single-payer, but it also at least tries to address a potentially fatal flaw in Sanders’ Medicare for All bill.
CAP proposal’s authors did something that single payer advocates rarely do: they put as much thought into how to pay for the plan as they did into the benefits it would provide. And since every single-payer plan proposed at the state level has hit a brick wall when it came time to figure out funding, maybe single-payer advocates could learn something from CAP’s approach. [click to continue…]