What Happened to Single Payer?

By
Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 11:46 am
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) (WDCpix)

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) (WDCpix)

As Congress dives head first into what has fast become a thorny debate over health care reform, the key Democrats in the discussion have insisted that all options remain on the table.

All, that is, except one.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Universal, single-payer health care — the idea that the government will cover everyone’s medical bills using taxpayer dollars — was dismissed by leading Democrats long before any details of their reform plans have been finalized. In the Senate Finance Committee, for example, a series of health reform discussions this year included input from academics, retirees, health insurers and other industry representatives, but no single-payer advocates were invited. Last month, the White House’s top health official told lawmakers that President Obama rejects the model altogether.

The dismissals have confounded supporters of the single-payer system, who contend it’s the only strategy that ensures universal access to care while minimizing expenses within a health system where costs are skyrocketing.

“Attempting to reconcile the dual imperatives of universal coverage and cost control through alternative methods besides single payer is an exercise in futility,” Walter Tsou, advisor to Physicians for a National Health Program, told lawmakers Wednesday during a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee’s health subpanel. “When some congressional leaders declare that single payer is off the table, they are in effect saying that insurers will be protected, leaving the pain to patients, taxpayers and health care providers.”

The debate over the single-payer option highlights the difficulty facing the young White House and other Democratic leaders as they prepare to tackle health reforms this year. Quite aside from the cost concerns associated with the overhaul — and separate from the lobbying dollars that are pouring into Washington from the many medical industries — there’s also the ideologically driven fight over what a sound health care system looks like. From the right, Democratic leaders are being blasted with charges of too much government involvement. From the left, the same leaders are being attacked for not going far enough to provide government help. Somewhere in that mix, they’ve got to produce a proposal that can get 60 votes through the Senate. Many observers say that doing away with private insurers, as the single-payer model would — even if it’s done in the name of better, expanded health care — is simply too radical a concept to push through Congress.

Outside of Washington, the concern might focus on whether health care is available and affordable. But on Capitol Hill, the debate is emerging as an ideological battle — one pitting free-marketers against government interventionists.

“Creating a new, one-size-fits-all health care system modeled on Medicare is a recipe for disaster,” said Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the senior Republican on the health subpanel. “It would ration care while empowering bureaucrats.”

Not that the public is opposed to the idea. A December 2007 poll conducted by Yahoo and the Associated Press found that 65 percent of respondents thought that the country “should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.”

Citing that and similar polls, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) wondered aloud Wednesday why Democratic leaders have been so quick to dismiss the single-payer option. “If you take the most popular health care reform measure and take it off the table,” Conyers said, “heaven knows what it is … you think you’re left with.”

Conyers has introduced legislation that would offer health care to everyone, paid by the government but privately administered. In the upper chamber, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced a similar proposal. Both lawmakers argue that private insurers, who have a fiduciary duty to shareholders, are the wrong folks to dictate who receives what care when.

“The function of a private health insurance company is not to provide health care; it is to deny health care,” Sanders said last week. “Every dollar of premium that a health insurance company does not spend on health care needs is a dollar more in profits.”

But the Democrats drafting the party’s health reform proposal have other things in mind. On Wednesday, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce health subpanel, conceded the system is broken and requires an overhaul. But the reforms, he added, should build on the existing systems — Medicare, Medicaid and employer sponsorship of private plans — that have taken decades to evolve. The single-payer model, Pallone said in an interview, “is off the table.”

Much of the reason stems from the declination of the White House to get behind the concept. On the campaign trail last year, President Barack Obama conceded that single-payer might be the best idea out there, but adopting it right away, he said, would cause too much disruption to “a whole system of institutions that have been set up.” Last month, Kathleen Sebelius, the newly installed head of the Health and Human Services Department, told House lawmakers that the single-payer model “is not something that the president supports.”

Instead, party leaders intend to revamp the system by piling reforms onto the institutions that already exist, including a continued emphasis on employer-sponsored coverage and a continued reliance on private insurance companies to pay for care. Many Democrats, including Obama, are also hoping to include the option of a government-sponsored insurance plan that would compete with private companies. Even that concept, however, has drawn intense fire from across the aisle.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), an orthopedic surgeon who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee, said during Wednesday’s hearing that the right to have access to government funded health care “is a right to get in line.”

“Choices are always limited by government intervention,” Price said.

On Wednesday, Price and other free-marketers found a powerful ally when the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, came out against any public plan option at all.

“The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans,” AMA wrote in comments submitted to the Finance Committee.

Yet that argument doesn’t go over well with many other health care professionals, who say they’ve grown tired of haggling with private insurers over whether certain services for certain patients should be covered.

“The current system rations care based on an ability to pay,” Geri Jenkins, co-president of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee, told lawmakers Wednesday. “Right now we are the only nation on earth that barters human life for money.”

Comments

31 Comments

zack
Comment posted June 11, 2009 @ 9:07 am

http://www3.capwiz.com/c-span/home/

Go here… enter your zip code and send on email to all of you federal and state representatives.

Tell them you support HR 676 (single payer health care for all) and that anyone who does not will not get your vote in the next election. Then tell everyone you know to do the same and to pass this information along.

This takes 30 seconds to do, so please don't pass on this.


Posts about Barack Obama as of June 11, 2009 » The Daily Parr
Pingback posted June 11, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

[...] offusqué de la chose à l’époque déniant que ça arriverait jamais… Et bien il n’ What Happened to Single Payer? – washingtonindependent.com 06/11/2009 Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) (WDCpix) As Congress dives head [...]


What Happened to Single Payer? « Auto Insurance
Pingback posted June 11, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

[...] Originally posted here: What Happened to Single Payer? [...]


Single-payer national healthcare plan « Later On
Pingback posted June 11, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

[...] alternative. But Congress won’t even consider it, they are so bought out by big business. Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent: As Congress dives head first into what has fast become a thorny debate over health care reform, [...]


Eye on Williamson » Random reads
Pingback posted June 11, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

[...] What Happened to Single Payer?. Not that the public is opposed to the idea. A December 2007 poll conducted by Yahoo and the Associated Press found that 65 percent of respondents thought that the country “should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.” [...]


Iremember
Comment posted June 11, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

If the American people don't get single payer health insurance then Obama can kiss his election in 2010 goodbye. I like many Americans only voted Democratic for a change. If we don't get it then millions of us will vote Republican. Not putting single payer on the table is a travesty of stupidness by these cowardly Congressman and Senators.


Bayard
Comment posted June 11, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

Wow, by my reasoning and research, it appears that Single Payer is by far the best option, AND just happens to be the option which is supported by a vast majority of our citizenry. Why, then, are our leaders interested in committing political suicide just to get millions more in campaign contributions. Remember, when the “new” system is in a shambles in a year or two with even more problems than the current ones, these folks will not stand a chance at getting votes, even with millions to spend. And, this is supposed to be a democracy. What a load of crap – it is an oligarchy, where the government is peopled by representatives of the rich campaign donors. They really don't give a damn about us.


johnhkennedy
Comment posted June 12, 2009 @ 7:46 am

I did believe that Single Payer had a chance from the start,
not because it isn't needed, not because it isn't the only real solution,
but because Rep. Conyers is leading the Single Payer fight.

After we voters gave the Democrats Control Of the House in 2006
Conyers had Control of The House Judiciary Committee
and could have made Impeachment or Prosecution of
Bush, Cheney and their torture advocating lawyers happen.

Conyers posed as the leading advocate of Bush and Cheney's impeachment but stonewalled it for 7 years and kept Rep. Kucinich's Impeach Bills from ever being debated or voted on.

Conyers broke his promise to hold impeach hearings after the '08 election.

When activists brought Conyers an impeachment petition with 1.1 Million Signatures he ignored it and had them arrested on the spot. He has not mentioned it since that day.

Recently, Conyers issued a huge HJC report advocating accountability-prosecution for the Bush people who obviously broke Federal Laws, including Torture. Nothing will come of this either. He poses but does not dispose.

Conyers is on the board of Progressive Democrats of America but even that group cannot get him to do his job as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

I just don't see Conyers following through on much of anything. Time for him to retire.

If Our Democratic Congressmen Refuse to enforce the Federal Law on Felony Torture,
are they Soft On Crime
Or did they just Lie To Us when they took their Oath Of Office?

If they refuse to enforce our Federal Anti-Torture Laws for obvious crimes
is there any hope they will get us Single Payer?

WE VOTERS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING BUSH-CHENEY POLICIES FOR SEVEN YEARS.

Could we see some fight from our Congressmen?

SIGN THE PETITION
To Prosecute Them For Torture

http://ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

Over 250,000 have signed
Join them and call yourself a Patriot


Hawaiian style
Comment posted June 12, 2009 @ 11:16 am

Single payer.

The question is so simple. Will Congress vote for Big money Big Insurance, or will Congress vote for the 100 million plus folks that need free health insurance?

That's all Folks. Don't listen to all the great reasonable sounding BS.

Other countries have done it. OTHER COUNTRIES.


DMac
Comment posted June 12, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

Tom Price and other conservatives do not hesitate to misrepresent the facts about single-payer health care. He also frequently relies upon hysteria in making his argument.

He makes the broad statement that “Choices are always limited by government intervention”. He provides no facts or information to support this generalized claim.

Price enjoys the use of clever quips, too bad these quotes don't enlighten the reader or increase understanding of the issue.

The AMA even went so far as to post a rebutal to some of Price's straw arguments with:
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/399/…


wgard
Comment posted June 13, 2009 @ 4:19 am

This observation is telling: 'President Barack Obama conceded that single-payer might be the best idea out there, but adopting it right away, he said, would cause too much disruption to “a whole system of institutions that have been set up.” '

Too much disruption … as in reducing administrative overhead from about 31% to 3% (provided single payer is not outsourced to the <s> largest contributor</s> private insurance/healthcare sector), providing health coverage to the 40+ million to whom it is unavailable, adding preventive health care and screening as a way of cutting costs rather than relying on the more expensive remedial care, reducing personal bankruptcies since about 70% of them are related to medical costs, etc.

Yep, disruptive, even radical, so 'politicians' (including Obama) are not championing single payer, even though it is favored by a majority of boters by a significant amount. Well, voters' memories are longer thann some think, and it would not be a surprise if votes on the issue now become issues in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Insurance companies, the AMA, etc., may fatten the PACs and contributions to the political parties and members of Congress, but so far as I know, Blue Cross, the AMA, and so on are not registered to vote in any single pricinct in the nation. But, I am, and plenty of others who see the move to single payer as a defining issue.


Hawaiian style
Comment posted June 13, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

Lets propose an Amendment to whatever health plan Congress proposes…

It would read, “Be it enacted that if this Health Bill passes and becomes law, that the Congressional Health plan will be exactly the same as that passed for the 110 plus million needy Americans!!!”


Kay Tillow
Comment posted June 13, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

The struggle for single payer is just beginning to get traction! Everyone must help to get HR 676 on the table in the house.

Ask Rep. Charles Rangel, Chair of Ways and Means to hold hearings on HR 676. Ask Henry Waxman, Chair of Energy and Commerce to do the same. Ask your own congressperson to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 676.

There are now 82 plus Conyers on HR 676–more than on any other health care bill. The fight has just begun–and the ball is in the court of the people who must speak up now!

Kay Tillow unionsforsinglepayer.org.


Svejk
Comment posted June 13, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

The solons of Washington are tying themselves in knots to protect the health insurance and drug industries by whom they are totally owned and operated. As usual, there is no concern whatever for the public, who would get to pay for a massive bailout of insurers and receive precious little in return.

The AMA has been fighting any health care system proposed for many years, and bears a large part of the responsibility for the horrible mess we're in – for the people who needlessly suffered and died, or were bankrupted by astronomical medical bils.

Only about 20% of doctors belong to the AMA now, and they hardly speak for all.

Tom Price is babbling. Choices are not always limited by government intervention, but they are limited by insurers – choice of doctor, hospital, treatment. He is betraying his ignorance of the situation, or trying to scare the public.

It's a pity these people can't manage to put the national interest above their own selfish interests for a change.


Hawaiian style
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 2:34 am

Help!!!

Could someone list the names and health care interests of the Congressional folks making the rules for the rest of us?

Can a congress person vote on a Bill when they have a conflict of interest? My little County Council has to at least declare a conflict. Or maybe Congress couldn't do that as they would be too busy declaring a conflict of interest to get any real business done.

Just remember, the real question: Will OUR Congress person vote with Big money and Big Insurance or will they vote with 100 plus million common folks that need free health care?

Health care for the middle and lower class would free up money to stimulate the economy. Even small business would have more money to grow.

We have spent over a Trillion bailing out the stock market folks with no rules on how the money is to be spent.
We have spent billions bailing out the banks and rich folks' bonuses.
We have spent billions bailing out big business.

Now is Congress really going to say to the tax payer that did all the bailing, “We will work to lower your costs, but more important we will give you a choice.” Cheesh. Give me a break. We get to bail out and pay and then pay taxes.

I think we need an amendment to the Great Compassion Plan that Congress deigns to give us. We need to attach an amendment. It would read that what ever plan Congress grants us it has to change its health plan to be the same as ours.

I also think the vote on the plan should be a RECORDED VOTE, not a voice roll call vote. Further the person voting should be forced to declare his health industry financial interests.

How about this…

“I, Senator Capn from the state of Katz n Jammer, holding 10,000 shares of Blue Cross, having received 350,000 thousand dollars in contributions for each of the last 4 years, and having for myself and my family for life a completely FREE Congressional Health care plan, VOTE NO to free health care for the 110 million folks that desperately need free health care.” “I do this not because I have what is an obvious conflict of interest, but because I want to preserve the right to choose for my 110 million friends. Choose and then pay that is…

Thanks, Senator, remind me how you were so concerned at the polls…


hidflect
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 3:17 am

I agree with everything Conyers says… and disagree with everything he does. This guy barks left and bites right. He seems to draw lightning to popular issues and then ground the spark to discharge it. Where the hell was his tough talk on impeachment? The guy is a cold, calculating sonoffabitch who needs to be moved out for a real action taker.


Hawaiian style
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 9:34 am

Help!!!

Could someone list the names and health care interests of the Congressional folks making the rules for the rest of us?

Can a congress person vote on a Bill when they have a conflict of interest? My little County Council has to at least declare a conflict. Or maybe Congress couldn't do that as they would be too busy declaring a conflict of interest to get any real business done.

Just remember, the real question: Will OUR Congress person vote with Big money and Big Insurance or will they vote with 100 plus million common folks that need free health care?

Health care for the middle and lower class would free up money to stimulate the economy. Even small business would have more money to grow.

We have spent over a Trillion bailing out the stock market folks with no rules on how the money is to be spent.
We have spent billions bailing out the banks and rich folks' bonuses.
We have spent billions bailing out big business.

Now is Congress really going to say to the tax payer that did all the bailing, “We will work to lower your costs, but more important we will give you a choice.” Cheesh. Give me a break. We get to bail out and pay and then pay taxes.

I think we need an amendment to the Great Compassion Plan that Congress deigns to give us. We need to attach an amendment. It would read that what ever plan Congress grants us it has to change its health plan to be the same as ours.

I also think the vote on the plan should be a RECORDED VOTE, not a voice roll call vote. Further the person voting should be forced to declare his health industry financial interests.

How about this…

“I, Senator Capn from the state of Katz n Jammer, holding 10,000 shares of Blue Cross, having received 350,000 thousand dollars in contributions for each of the last 4 years, and having for myself and my family for life a completely FREE Congressional Health care plan, VOTE NO to free health care for the 110 million folks that desperately need free health care.” “I do this not because I have what is an obvious conflict of interest, but because I want to preserve the right to choose for my 110 million friends. Choose and then pay that is…

Thanks, Senator, remind me how you were so concerned at the polls…


hidflect
Comment posted June 14, 2009 @ 10:17 am

I agree with everything Conyers says… and disagree with everything he does. This guy barks left and bites right. He seems to draw lightning to popular issues and then ground the spark to discharge it. Where the hell was his tough talk on impeachment? The guy is a cold, calculating sonoffabitch who needs to be moved out for a real action taker.


Obama speak on healthcare « Later On
Pingback posted June 15, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

[...] American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, the president also rejected the idea of adopting a single-payer system, arguing that, in effect, it’s un-American. [Well, yeah: we don't have it. If we did, it would be [...]


Single-payer healthcare « Later On
Pingback posted June 19, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

[...] Daily life, Democrats, Government, Healthcare, Law, Obama administration at 9:46 am by LeisureGuy Mike Lillis in the Washington Independent: As Congress dives head first into what has fast become a thorny debate over health care reform, [...]


samasapienza
Comment posted June 23, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

Democratic leaders, slap those Republicans. I don't care how you voted for the lying war in Iraq neither does the general public. We blame the Republicans, know that. Why must we listen to the Republican diatribe of worthless lies to the public American taxpayer (citizens) can make their own, not for profit health insurance, through the astronomical taxes we are saddled with already. And have plenty left over for the struggling. Where do you think all the insurance profit is coming from. The uninsured, the charges to business' and individuals etc. etc. etc. Government subsidies, no. Do not make citizens subsidize the insurance companies in health care at all! When are you democrats going to get strong on a real and workable single payer public plan. You know it will work best, you know, you know, you know how to solve the problem. Please stop debating on how much you can pull the wool over the taxpayers eyes and get away with it. Where were the Republican leaders laments of an unfair financial burden to Americans when they supported that phony war in Iraq. They right up in front to lament about the financial burdens to America when it comes to serving her citizens. Where is the democratic leadership in slapping back these masters of misinformation in the Republican Congress, and unfortunately some democrats. Amazingly surprising the ones on the health care committee right now. Baucus, Todd, thats a laugh, they are so in bed with corporate health care, it would be impossible for any citizen to make any decision without an unfair conflict of interest to taxpayer (citizens). The Republicans want to stall and wait till nobody's looking, then bam, status quo. Or else push reform doomed for failure and blame democrats. Well damn it get Democratic Congressional Healthcare Reform leadership that is not biased by the health care industry to slap them Republican betrayers (some democrats) down like the way they do our president. Tell Mr Rengal, good work, sorry the rich guys cut you off.


House Panel Votes to Let States Adopt Single-Payer Health Coverage | The Lie Politic
Pingback posted July 19, 2009 @ 4:25 am

[...] sponsored single-payer health care might be off the table as Congress debates its health reform strategy this summer, but if some House lawmakers get their [...]


rbarre
Comment posted July 23, 2009 @ 1:03 am

Jeri Jenkins needs a reality check. We barter human life (health care) for money? She, and all health care practitioners are PAID by someone, usually those that receive services. Does she think services should be for free? Maybe RN's and doctors and hospitals and staff should volunteer their time. Also, anyone even the indigent who goes to a hospital room is covered, pay or not. Stupid comments like this only confuse the healthcare issue.


Health Care Needs Reforming – 3 Short Stories | Confessions of a Former Political Junkie
Pingback posted August 3, 2009 @ 9:56 am

[...] example, the cheapest and most rational approach to health care, single payer, is off the table.  Also in serious risk of being dumped are health care mandates (another cost-saver) and the [...]


House Health Bill Ditches State Option to Create Single Payer System « Yuvablog
Pingback posted October 30, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

[...] July, single-payer health care advocates won a prominent victory when the House Education and Labor Committee approved [...]


Progressive Nation » Blog Archive » Kucinich Wants His Single Payer Amendment Back
Pingback posted October 31, 2009 @ 11:28 am

[...] pro­vi­sion, which would allow states to set up single-payer health care sys­tems mod­eled after Medicare, passed the House Edu­ca­tion and Labor Com­mit­tee in July, but was [...]


louis vuitton handbags
Comment posted August 5, 2010 @ 7:48 am

is it possible to trade my clunker for a 2008, 2007 or even a 2003?


Pachaderm Points » Blog Archive » Massa: Questionable Associates and Fringe Views
Pingback posted August 25, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

[...] (socialized medicine, government run healthcare, medicare for all, etc). This position is even farther to the left than even President Obama wants to go. Secondly, his position on Afghanistan. The Congressman has called for an immediate [...]


1353113
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

1353113 beers on the wall. sck was here


953701
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

953701 beers on the wall. sck was here


103588
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

103588 beers on the wall. sck was here


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.