The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

Single-payer proponents ask for a seat at the table

In Legislation Today on May 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

The Senate Finance Committee, under Chair Max Baucus (D-Montana), has been holding hearings on health care reform, one of which was held last Tuesday. Proponents of a single-payer health care system–modeled on Medicare and, like Frances Perkins’s most significant accomplishment, Social Security, available to all–were upset that they did not have a representative at the table at any of these hearings. Jerry Call, who attended our conference on May 2nd and spoke up there for the single-payer system, was one of the protestors at the May 12th hearing. Here’s a YouTube video of that event (Jerry appears after about 7 minutes).

Here’s what Jerry said at our conference, talking about the discussion that took place in the Health Care for All workshop:

We’re basically faced with two choices. In probably June or July or maybe as late as August, the Administration will come out with a mandatory for-profit insurance program similar to what Massachusetts has done and failed at. And I think the sense of the group was that we’re pretty much going to lay down and accept it. We’re going to go with the political will of this mandatory insurance program. We’re not going to get a public program out of it. Not only is it not feasible, it’s not advisable. And Baucus already said last week that he is putting it aside, which is the same thing as if  he said it is off the table. It’s off.

So the other option to that is, the other side that we discussed was, well, we could be idealists, if you will. We could step out there and try to do something about it. We could stand up for our principles and say “Let’s go out and let’s demand a single payer Medicare for all system.” So that’s the simple choice. I mean, you can either go out and demand it or you can just lay back and take what Obama will give you. Which is a mandatory for-profit insurance system.

On the same day as the Senate Finance Committee Hearing, May 12, sent an email to members asking them to call their senators and urge them to make sure that a Medicare-based health insurance option stays in the president’s plan. They claim that the Republicans are planning to kill that option:

Luntz wrote a confidential memo that laid out the Republican strategy: Pretend to support reform. Mislead Americans about the heart of Obama’s plan, the public health insurance option. Scare enough people to doom real reform.

If you want to know more about that public health insurance option, check out The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform: Key to Cost Control and Quality Coverage by Jacob S. Hacker of Berkeley. Here’s the PDF: Jacob_Hacker_Public_Plan_Choice


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