Sanders' plan for single-payer healthcare could be the Democrats' version of repeal and replace.
This week, Senator and possible presidential candidate in 2020, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), announced his plan to introduce a bill to provide for a single-payer for healthcare insurance, calling it Medicare for All. It’s not the first time he has thrown his support for such a proposal; he offered a similar bill back in 2013, but had no support from his colleagues.
This time, he has the backing of at least 15 Democratic senators, many of whom are probably considering a challenge to President Trump in the 2020 race as well. The question is, did universal single-payer healthcare suddenly become more desirable to the Democratic Party?
Not all Democrats are on board. The leadership of the party in Congress is less than vocal about Sen. Sanders’ idea of free healthcare to everyone, and still remain committed to making the Affordable Care Act work, even if they have to settle for a little less than they actually work.
Most of the group that joined with Sanders in the announcement are not up for re-election in the upcoming mid-terms, so they can be a little more aggressive in pushing their desired agenda, and not have to worry about immediate push-back from their constituents. So why get behind this idea now?
It may be the Medicare for All will turn out to be the Democratic version of “Repeal and Replace,” which Republicans ran on for most president Obama’s term. It plays well with the base, and re-energizes those so inclined to support that form of healthcare coverage, and it gives a lot of talking points and TV time to the Congressmen and women. But the solid truth is no one believes the bill has a snowball’s chance of getting passed, with Republicans in control of both houses. And if by some miracle it did reach the President’s desk, he would almost certainly veto the measure, although Trump has shown a good deal of unpredictability.
This bill gives the Democrats a chance to howl at the Republicans for obstruction, allows them to support a measure that will never get off the ground, and paint the opposition as uncaring and unfeeling for those who cannot afford healthcare insurance. Couple that with the Republican’s failure to address the problems associated with Obamacare and the current state of rising premiums and fewer choices for medical services, and you have a piñata at which to swing for the remainder of the GOP’s time in charge.
Of course, should the Democrats take the majority once again, it will be the same as the Repeal and Replace mantra, there will be enough “rouge” Democrats to prevent anything from actually going forward, and the can will be kicked a little farther down the road.
In short, this amounts to a bit of political grandstanding and a lot of time, effort, and investment of taxpayer dollars will be wasted on arguing over a bill that cannot succeed at this point in legislative time. It’s no secret that Progressives want single-payer healthcare. But the cost of such a program, at a time when we just reached the $20 trillion mark in government debt and the staggering costs the nation will incur to make necessary repairs to infrastructure in the wake of the two most recent hurricanes, makes the effort simply unaffordable.
Health care will never be free. Some may not have to pay for it, but others will be forced to make up the difference, no matter who administers the paperwork, insurance companies or the federal government. Taxes will have to be raised, rising premiums will have to be paid, and out-of-pocket costs will have to be incurred to keep the program solvent. Raising the debt ceiling is not the answer.
Healthcare costs in America are a real problem. Let’s see if we can work out some real bi-partisan solutions and stop jousting at windmills for political treasure. The American public deserves better.