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Why Do Republicans (and Some Democrats) Vilify Single Payer?

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The answer has everything to do with our campaign-finance system.

From flickr.com: Bernie Sanders supporters {MID-175017}
Bernie Sanders supporters
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What scares the members of Congress who for decades have collected hefty donations from the insurance and health-care industries and then used their positions of public trust to sustain and protect profiteering by those industries?

The threat of a single-payer "Medicare for All" health-care system.

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By replacing the bureaucratic profiteers with an efficient system that would guarantee care for every American -- and fair compensation for doctors and nurses -- single payer would not merely make health care more accessible and more affordable. It would also make politics more honest and responsive to the will of the people.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has, through the campaign committees and political action committees that he guides, collected millions of dollars from Wall Street interests, insurance interests, pharmaceutical interests, private hospital and nursing home interests, and "health products" interests over the course of a political career that has seen him go to the mat, again and again, in defense of Wall Street interests, insurance interests, pharmaceutical interests, private hospital and nursing home interests, and "health products" interests.

So is it any surprise that Ryan keeps trying to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act with measures that benefit his crony-capitalist campaign funders?

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Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has, through the campaign committees and political-action committees that he guides, collected millions of dollars from Wall Street interests, insurance interests, pharmaceutical interests, private hospital and nursing home interests and "health products" interests over the course of a political career that has seen him go to the mat, again and again, in defense of Wall Street interests, insurance interests, pharmaceutical interests, private hospital and nursing home interests and "health products" interests.

So is it any surprise that McConnell keeps trying to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act with measures that benefit his crony-capitalist campaign funders?

On this issue, as on so many others, Ryan and McConnell are robotic servants of their paymasters. They will keep coming up with ever-more-absurd schemes to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act -- and to undermine Medicaid -- even as doctors and nurses, pollsters, and even a few honest Republican governors tell them this is a very bad idea.

Unfortunately, very bad ideas never die in a corrupted political process. It's all about bottom lines: for billionaire campaign donors and for the powerful recipients of those campaign donations.

Nothing so corrupts our politics -- aside, perhaps, from the military-industrial complex -- as the ability of health-care industry speculators, investors, and CEOs to buy the policies that favor the furious fleecing of patients and taxpayers that makes them millionaires and billionaires.

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What we've got now is a process that empowers the masters of a campaign-finance system that former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) correctly describes as a mixture of "legalized bribery" and "legalized extortion."

But what if, as in so many other countries, public servants organized an efficient, patient-centered health-care system? And what if, as in so many other countries, the government replaced the bureaucratic nightmare that sustains private-sector profiteering with a single-payer program for paying everyone's health-care bills?

That's what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed, with legislation that has now attracted 16 cosponsors in the Senate. That's what Michigan Congressman John Conyers has proposed, with legislation that has attracted 119 cosponsors in the House.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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4 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments  Post Comment


John Jonik

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Submitted on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 at 6:25:28 AM

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BFalcon

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Because, my friend:

"By replacing the bureaucratic profiteers with an efficient system that would guarantee care for every American ... "

is wrong.

What you would do is you would be "replacing the bureaucratic profiteers with a" system of government bureaucrats who have monopsony.

And monopsony does not guarantee 'fair pay'.

It is complicated.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 at 2:57:50 PM

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PCM

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No quibbles from me on who and what are really behind the resistance to single-payer, but I do have some refinements to add:

(1) Republicans don't really want to repeal Obamacare, because their Big Health benefactors are making a buttload of money off it. Obamacare was a Big Health bailout, a deferral of the death spiral. Their repeal efforts will always be calculated to fail by a vote or two.

(2) Bernie's bill has a very long (four-year) "transition period" during which there will be no effective cost controls (i.e., reductions in administrative redundancy and price-discrimination, aka price-gouging). Our overall healthcare costs will go up, and this will provide the opposition with a specious argument that completing the transition to full single-payer would be ruinously expensive. (It will be much cheaper.) Along with S 1804's failure to include coverage for long-term care, this is the major difference between it and HR 676, and it's the only reason Bernie got any Democratic co-sponsors for S 1804, because -- surprise! -- the Democratic Party is sucking at the same Big Health and Wall Street teats as the Republicans. They support Bernie's bill because it contains a self-sabotage mechanism. It allows them to claim they are for single-payer without really threatening one of the Party's biggest sugar-daddies. Let's not forget that during the Republicans' first repeal-and-replace effort, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced an amendment that would replace the entire Republican bill with the exact language of HR 676, "Expanded & Improved Medicare for All." He did it to show what hypocrites the Democrats were, and they rose to the challenge: it didn't get a single vote.

Conclusion: Republicans aren't the only enemy in this fight. We are going to have to make our Democratic single-payer "allies" even more scared of us -- viscerally scared -- than they are of Big Health.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 at 3:01:12 PM

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Submitted on Friday, Oct 13, 2017 at 5:30:28 AM

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gunnar kullenberg

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...the healthcare situation in the US is in my opinion perhaps the most damning aspect of the "American character"...it screams...

The article makes powerful and utterly valid points, but a point that is not made is that "single payer" goes against the prevailing "faith" or ideology that is -- "Americanism"

"Americanism" is a supremacist ideology that posits that all things American are by definition superior....if the US were to adopt a sound system along the lines of other advanced nations, that would mean admitting that the US had been wrong...and this is intolerable to many USans...

The US is an involuntary union-construct from which follows that it is also totalitarian by definition...one consequence is obviously that "the many" will have no deciding voice, if that voice goes against the interests of the power establishment. -- This has been verified in US studies and is not up for discussion.

I got a lot of "health0care" advertising in the mail today...how can I make sense of it...? -- I can't...there is no sense in it

Submitted on Monday, Oct 16, 2017 at 11:59:14 PM

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