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MAGA Mike Johnson Explores Medicare for All

GOP Representative Mike Johnson, aiming to gain Dem support for his threatened position as Speaker, told a reporter he is willing to consider Medicare for All. He said that universal public insurance works well in countries with robust market economies and even conservative governments.

April 1, 2024

Embattled House Speaker Reaches Across Aisle to Dems on Health Reform
USA Wire Service
April 1, 2024
By Bir Nisan

Mike Johnson (R, LA), Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is struggling with a razor thin GOP majority and a looming vote on his leadership position due to a petition from Marjorie Tayler Greene (R, CO). He is contemplating desperate measures to garner support. 

In an interview, Mr. Johnson offered a surprising reply to the question, “Are you seeking Democratic votes for your Speaker position?”

“Public perceptions of my absolute partisanship are mistaken. Of course, I vigorously advance Republican values and policies. However, when opportunities arise, I’m open to building alliances across the aisle.

“Here’s one example. My staff recently reviewed international experience with health insurance. They found that having public agencies pay for all medical care works very well in numerous nations. It saves money and is popular. All of these countries have thriving free market economic systems, and many have conservative governments.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D, WA), lead sponsor for H.R. 3421, the Medicare for All Act (113 co-sponsors), expressed enthusiasm for the Speaker’s sentiment. “I’m surprised, given his past positions on health reform, not to mention on many other priority progressive issues. But if the Speaker has seen the light on this issue, we’re more than willing to work together.”

Other GOP lawmakers declined comment.

Johnson added, “As a very religious person, I believe health care is a moral imperative. They say only Nixon could undertake rapprochement with China. Well, maybe only Mike Johnson can join a cross-party coalition for Medicare for All in the US.”

 

Comment by: Jim Kahn

Amidst the most severe and vitriolic political divisions in memory, and a historically intense presidential election campaign, this report is eye-catching, even shocking.

Could it be that the Speaker, to this point a stalwart opponent of Democratic (let alone progressive) legislation, is offering an olive branch on comprehensive insurance reform? Has his staff done their homework and convinced him of what we in the single payer movement have been saying for years? That is, that single payer allows us to achieve the moral goal of universal access to health insurance, within the context of (and strengthening) a robust market economy?

It feels like a dream.

Well, yes, it is a dream. An April Fool’s fantasy.

Sorry my friends. Maybe someday this story, or one like it, will come true.

Meantime, let’s focus on strengthening the role of Democrats, and progressives in particular, in Washington DC and across the nation. And continue our quest for generous, efficient, people-oriented health insurance – single payer.

About the Commentator, Jim Kahn

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Jim (James G.) Kahn, MD, MPH (editor) is an Emeritus Professor of Health Policy, Epidemiology, and Global Health at the University of California, San Francisco. His work focuses on the cost and effectiveness of prevention and treatment interventions in low and middle income countries, and on single payer economics in the U.S. He has studied, advocated, and educated on single payer since the 1994 campaign for Prop 186 in California, including two years as chair of Physicians for a National Health Program California.

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