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 a little disheartening to watch these groups attack CAP’s proposal right out of the gate, since it could offer a path to single-payer that avoids the one pitfall that’s doomed every other single-payer plan: massive sticker shock when it comes time to figure out how to pay for it.