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Time to Take to the Streets to Demand Medicare for All!

Sanders, Jayapal Put Single Payer Medicare for All on Back Burner, Corporate Crime Reporter, May 10, 2021, By Russell Mokhiber

Single payer activists want Medicare for All front and center in Congress.

But Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal have put the issue on the back burner.

Sanders has yet to reintroduce his single payer legislation in the Senate. 

Instead, Sanders is pushing for a step by step approach – dropping the Medicare age to 60 and expanding it to cover dental, hearing and vision.

This step by step approach is justified by Sanders supporters like Michael Lighty who wrote recently that “Medicare for All isn’t yet winnable – expansion is.” 

And while Congresswoman Jayapal introduced her Medicare for All legislation (HR 1384) in March, she made it clear that she was more interested in the Sanders step by step approach.

Inside the beltway progressives refuse to challenge Sanders and Jayapal.

But Kay Tillow of The All Unions for Single Payer Health Care in Louisville, Kentucky says that the step by step approach won’t work.

And she questions why Sanders and Jayapal didn’t just re-introduce HR 676, the original single payer proposal in the House.

Tillow wrote to Jayapal at the end of December 2020 with her concerns…

“We are deeply concerned that HR 1384, the bill that succeeded Congressman John Conyers’ HR 676, dropped some of the key principles that were in Conyers’ model single payer bill,” Tillow wrote to Jayapal. 

“There is no reason for any compromises to be made at this point. We need model legislation that sets the stage for the struggle that is to come. If a principle is not placed on the table at the beginning of the bargaining, it is conceded. Unionists know that the outcome does not improve in the negotiations. The effort for the integrity of the single payer model in actual legislative form needs to be made.”

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Comment by Don McCanne

Bernie Sanders, Pramila Jayapal, and Michael Lighty – heroes of the single payer Medicare for All movement – are also political pragmatists. But Kay Tillow is a political realist. “If a principle is not placed on the table at the beginning of the bargaining, it is conceded. Unionists know that the outcome does not improve in the negotiations.”

Recent media reports have indicated that our heroes recognize the political barriers to reform and are now posturing with the view that we should support beneficial measures that may not get us all the way there. Perhaps the most prominent isolated policy that is gaining support is lowering the eligibility age for Medicare – a view that some think that President Biden may eventually agree to as a compromise.

Where are the insurers and the medical-industrial complex on this? Of course, they are opposed. But are they really? Almost half of Medicare has already moved into the private insurance Medicare Advantage plans. Since some believe that Medicare for All is inevitable, what better strategy could they have than to complete the conversion to private Medicare Advantage for All? That concept is sneaking into the health policy literature, and it certainly wasn’t us who put it there.

Oh, you say, that won’t happen because we will be able to follow up with the Medicare public option. But isn’t that just another insurance plan that will be plugged into the Medicare Advantage insurance exchange?

Never fear. We are being told that President Biden has proven to be a great progressive like Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But wasn’t it FDR who threw health insurance out of the Social Security Act?

Kay Tillow has warned us that we can’t take anything off of the table, but we already have, and we are poised to take much more off.

Instead, we should be taking to the streets screaming for health care justice for all. Listen… silence. We have to change that. Now!