As the national healthcare debate rages in the wake of the GOP’s TrumpCare disaster, universal healthcare advocates have identified an opening to advance the long-held goal of enacting a single-payer (or similar) system—one that truly provides coverage for all.
Signs this week suggest that opening is getting wider. One bright spot was Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) announcement over the weekend that he will soon introduce a Medicare-for-All bill in the U.S. Senate. Other promising signals included:
1. To much fanfare, a single-payer proposal to create universal health coverage (including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health, and nursing home care) for every California resident.
“With Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Californians really get what is at stake with their healthcare,” said Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, who is co-sponsoring the bill along with state Sen. Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “We have the chance to make universal healthcare a reality now. It’s time to talk about how we get to healthcare for all that covers more and costs less.”
“At a time of critical disarray of our national healthcare system, California can once again lead the nation,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United (NNU), both of which are supporting the legislation. “This bill will set a standard in America and be a catalyst for the nation.”
SB 562 also has the support of Physicians for a National Health Program, which published its own analysis of the proposal.
2. The Huffington Post reports that
The push came in the form of support from state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in the New York state Senate. As the last remaining hold-out in his caucus, Klein’s backing “gives the measure the unanimous support of the IDC, a crucial, and often recalcitrant, bloc of lawmakers,” according to HuffPo.
While the IDC’s support won’t be enough to propel the bill to victory, it is “a critical development in the push for single-payer healthcare,” the outlet said, and it indicates growing mainstream momentum for such an idea.
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“In the wake of [President Donald] Trump being elected, the issue of healthcare has moved to the top of the agenda for a lot of people,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat representing the Bronx, told HuffPo, which further noted: “If both California and New York can implement a single-payer heathcare system in the next few years…something like a fifth of the country will be covered just by those two states.”
3. , first at a town hall meeting last Friday and again when pressed by a reporter on Monday. Warren, who appears Friday evening in Boston with staunch single-payer supporter Sanders, told MassLive that “single-payer sure ought to be at the top of the list” if the country starts from scratch on healthcare reform following this month’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA) implosion.
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Vox reported this week:
“There’s more of an appetite for an alternative now,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a sponsor of Conyers’ bill, told Vox reporter Jeff Stein. “Democrats have a new confidence to push for a single-payer system. The momentum is building.”
5. While the demonstrations are lower-profile than other recent and upcoming marches (for women, for Native people, for science), they are taking place in a number of cities from coast to coast. Find one near you here, and follow online under the hashtag #MarchforHealth:
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