No Vote on Single-Payer

By David Swanson

Congressman Weiner has agreed with Nancy Pelosi not to have a floor vote on his Medicare for All bill. A press release from Congressmen Kucinich and Conyers opposing it helped tip the scale. But Weiner did not ask Pelosi to include in her bill the Kucinich Amendment to allow states to create single-payer. Pelosi made clear that President Obama opposes that, and used the bogus excuse that providing everyone with comprehensive free healthcare would deprive them of the right to pay ever increasing rates for uncertain health “insurance.”

The removal of the Weiner vote undoubtedly helps the effort to force some of the 57 congress members who wrote to Pelosi in July keep their word. They said they would not support a bill without a public option tied to Medicare rates. If even 40 of them keep their word, the current bill will fail. And we will have a second round, in which we can push for single-payer and achieve at least a better result than the rotten corpse of a bill being voted on this weekend.

If we could have had a second round AND a strong but failing vote for national single-payer, that would have been better. But the single-payer vote was going to be used as cover for voting for a bad bill. Depriving conniving congress critters of that cover is decidedly a good thing, assuming healthcare advocates can come to terms with it and not rip each other’s throats out.

If congress members in favor of real helthcare reform were able to work with each other, or if activists were, other possibilities would open up. And if we have a round 2 in which advocates for a public option admit that single-payer would be better and include single-payer in all of their discussions as the ideal that Americans actually prefer, wonderful things might become possible. But unless single-payer advocates admit that winning in one state would be a good thing, rather than a loss of purity, we may not save any lives. Our most likely path to national single-payer is to get it in a state first.

And we could still facilitate that if we all got together and forced the conference committe to put the Kucinich Amendment back in, or if we forced House members to insist on voting No on Saturday unless the Kucinich Amendment is put back in.