How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare for All

How Big Medicine Can Ruin Medicare for All
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Many of us still remember the moment during the debate over the Affordable Care Act when a powerful Democratic senator not only blocked supporters of single-payer health care from testifying before his committee, but even had some arrested. Well, reports are that Max Baucus has been born again. “My personal view is we've got to start looking at single-payer,” the now-retired senator recently told a political gathering in his hometown of Bozeman, Montana. “We're getting there. It's going to happen.”

Not long ago, politicians advocating for single-payer health care were taken to be on the lefty fringe. But now Democrats of every stripe, including some with plausible presidential aspirations, are using the term to describe what they think America needs now. In 2013, Bernie Sanders couldn't find a single cosponsor for his single-payer plan, which would replace private insurance with Medicare-like coverage for all Americans regardless of age or income. Today the roll call of supporters for his latest version includes Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. Others embrace what they describe as alternative single-payer plans, like Senator Chris Murphy's legislation that would allow any American to buy into Medicare instead of getting their insurance through their employers or the individual market. It's enough to make an exasperated Dana Milbank publish a column in the Washington Post under the headline “The Democrats Have Become Socialists.”

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