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Near term political prospects for Medicare for All

July 23, 2020

Topics: Quote of the Day

By Amanda Terkel and Tara Golshan
HuffPost, July 22, 2020

For the first time, the Democratic Party platform mentions “Medicare for All,” according to a draft version released this week. It’s a victory for progressives who worked to make the transformation of the health care system a central issue in the presidential campaign.

“Generations of Democrats have been united in the fight for universal health care. We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach; all are critical to ensuring that health care is a human right,” the document reads.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee for president, does not back Medicare for All, a policy that was central to the rival presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). So the platform does not endorse the idea, and the reference to it is brief. But supporters say it’s still a win to have their progress acknowledged ― and to have the idea enshrined in an official party document in a positive way.

“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that health care is a human right and that the greed and cruelty of health insurance corporations must end,” said Josh Orton, a senior adviser to Sanders who was on the committee. “A majority of Democrats in the U.S. House support a Medicare for All system, and it shows real progress that our movement is now a part of the DNC platform itself.”



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Although the current draft of the Democratic Party platform doesn’t endorse Medicare for All, it does welcome both advocates of the Affordable Care Act and advocates of Medicare for All, acknowledging the support of both concepts within the ranks of the party. It is a first in that previous efforts to include single payer in the party platform have been rejected. So the mere mention of Medicare for All in the platform does represent progress.

The presumptive Democratic candidate for president – Joe Biden – has made it clear that he does not support Medicare for All and has implied that he would veto it if it came to his desk. The presumptive Republican candidate – President Donald Trump – has shown no interest in supporting Medicare for All.

So where does that leave us? As FDR said when special interests sought his support for another unrelated agenda, “Make me do it.”

That’s quite a task, having to pump up the politics such that the president can’t refuse, but that’s what we have to do.

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About the Commentator, Don McCanne

Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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