WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Party leaders called on Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.-Ind.) to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate for Single-Payer national health care (Medicare For All) and to drop the idea of legislation for a public option to be incorporated into the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Green Party, which endorses Medicare For All in its national platform, supports House Bill 676 and said that a parallel bill for Medicare For All must be introduced in the the U.S. Senate.
“Widespread dissatisfaction with the ACA and the withdrawal of the Republicans’ American Healthcare Act last week have given us an ideal opportunity to push for Medicare For All and educate and mobilize people across the U.S so that we finally solve the healthcare crisis with a real universal plan. It’s time to remove control of our medical care from for-profit insurance companies,” said Mark Dunlea, a member of the state committee of the Green Party of NY and co-founder of Single Payer NY.
Greens said that tweaking the ACA instead of introducing Medicare For All would only appease Democratic leaders who side with the health insurance industry.
“The need for national health care is one of the best reasons to get Greens seated in Congress. As long as the political field is limited to D versus R, solutions like Single-Payer / Medicare For All will be declared ‘off the table’ by top Democrats. Those were Sen. Max Baucus’s words in 2009 when he ran the health reform panels and Democrats invited the insurance lobby to help write Obamacare,” said Kenneth Mejia, 26-year-old Green candidate for Congress in California’s 34th Congressional District in a special election on April 4. Mr. Mejia left the Democratic Party after he realized that Democrats would rather fight progressives and against progressive legislation like Medicare for All.
Sen. Sanders indicated that he may pursue more limited goals on Sunday: “Let us do, among other things, a public option. Let us give people in every state in this country a public option from which they can choose. Let’s talk about lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Let’s deal with the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”
Sen. Sanders promoted Medicare For All during his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, while Hillary Clinton declared that it “will never, ever come to pass.”
Greens said that the chief obstacles to universal health care in the U.S. are legal bribes in the form of generous contributions to Democratic and Republican politicians from health insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporate health-care industries and a bipartisan ideological belief in privatized essential services.
The result is that the U.S. remains the only developed democratic country in the world that refuses to guarantee its citizens health care, with the U.S. paying far more for medical care than any other country because of the high overhead and administrative costs of for-profit insurance (with widespread personal bankruptcies over medical bills). Poor access to treatment and high costs have left the U.S. with a less healthy population, shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality, and poor immunization rates.
The ACA, while offering some sorely needed reforms, has herded millions of people into insurance policies that offer expensive and inadequate coverage and hasn’t corrected the crisis of soaring medical costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 28 million Americans will go without health insurance under the ACA in 2026, a little more than half of the number who’d lack insurance under the scuttled Republican plan (54 million). The public option would not make health coverage universal.
Medicare For All will cover everyone for quality health care, make emergency treatment free, eliminate co-pays and deductibles, and allow full choice of physician and hospital. For more information about Medicare For All and how it will be financed, see the Physicians for a National Health Program web site.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, 2016 Green candidate for U.S. Senator from Maryland, was quoted at length in a statement by SinglePayerAction.org on Sen. Sanders’ public option bill. Dr. Flowers is a pediatrician, member of PNHP, and co-director of Health Over Profit for Everyone.
“Introducing a public option will divide and confuse supporters of Medicare for all,” said Dr. Flowers. “Senators who should co-sponsor Medicare for all will be divided. Sanders seems to be urging a public option to please the Democratic Party, but Sanders cannot serve two masters — Wall Street’s Chuck Schumer and the people. Sanders must decide whom he is working for.”
“While it might seem politically pragmatic to support a public option, it is not realistically pragmatic because a public option will not work. Senator Sanders knows that and he knows that the smallest step toward solving the healthcare crisis is National Improved Medicare for All. This would fundamentally change our health system that currently treats health as a commodity so that people only have access to what they can afford to a system that treats health as a public necessity so that people have access to what they need. Medicare for all achieves the savings needed to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone.”
“If Senator Sanders believes that it is acceptable to promote a policy that leaves some people out, then we want to know who should be left out. The U.S. is already spending enough to cover everyone and that’s what we need to do.”
“The Affordable Care Act, built on a heavily subsidized private insurance industry, is not possible to fix. The ACA must be replaced by a national health policy that serves the needs of the people by replacing private insurance with publicly-financed Medicare.”
“Sanders wants to lower drug prices. Only a single payer system can negotiate lower drug prices. Sanders says healthcare is a human right, but human rights should not be commodities or profit centers. People do not pay for their human rights.”
“We look to Senator Sanders to act on what he promised during his presidential campaign, a National Improved Medicare for All now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. It is not up to him to decide if single payer can pass in Congress. That task is for the people to decide.”