Scott Lemieux published an interesting piece in The Week today about Kirsten Gillibrand’s support for a single payer solution as the ultimate goal for healthcare reform: “Kirsten Gillibrand is serious about Medicare for all.” An excerpt:
It would have been easy for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to rest on her laurels at the town hall she held at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, on Wednesday. In the wake of the narrow defeat of the Republican “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, she received two standing ovations from a packed house before she even began to speak… But she had a more ambitious agenda in mind. Before taking questions, she celebrated the defeat of ACA repeal but quickly observed that it was not enough: Too many people still couldn’t afford insurance. And making a point she would return to repeatedly for the next hour, she identified her preferred solution: Medicare for all…
While the audience was generally supportive of her advocacy for Medicare for all — some scattered booing aside — one audience member asked a practical question: What should Congress do if the votes in Congress for Medicare for all aren’t there yet? Gillibrand had a ready answer: “You get to single-payer by letting people buy in [to Medicare] now…”
[W]hat’s politically possible at a given point is a question that can be answered the next time the Democrats take over the White House and Congress. In the meantime, the Democratic Party needs to establish Medicare for all or a comparable universal program as a goal — and whether it’s Gillibrand, Sanders, or another candidate, this is almost certainly the direction the next Democratic nominee will be pushing in.
I’m grateful to Gillibrand for stating outright that a market-driven system will never achieve affordable, universal coverage, so the public aspects of the ACA will have to be expanded to move in that direction. President Obama and the Democrats who worked on healthcare reform during his first term knew that, which is why they built in Medicaid expansion nationwide, a provision the SCOTUS sabotaged.
Anyhoo, the whole thing is worth a read. Love it or hate it, I think Lemieux is correct when he says single payer is becoming a core part of the Democratic Party platform, at least as an objective. The disagreements will arise around how to get there.