Friday 12 June 2009
Health care reform plans are being drafted and passed around on both sides of Capitol Hill, but the plan with the greatest number of Congress members behind it was first introduced as a bill six years ago. With two new co-sponsors having just signed on, Congressman John Conyers’s single-payer health care plan, HR 676, now has 80 Congress members supporting it.
A House committee held a hearing on single-payer health coverage on Wednesday, and a Senate committee included single payer in a hearing on Thursday. Many opponents of single payer, including President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, say it would be the ideal solution if it were possible.
A single-payer or “Medicare for all” system that eliminates for-profit health insurance and simply pays for everyone’s treatment by private doctors and hospitals of their choosing is also the only solution consistently favored by a majority of Americans in polls. The proposal, already in place in most of the world’s wealthy nations, is raised at every health care town-hall forum that Congress members or President Obama speak at, including the one Obama held on Thursday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The president always rejects single payer on the grounds that some Americans are too fond of their health insurance companies to part with them. A report by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting last week found that the corporate media still virtually bans coverage of single payer. A Senate bill being championed by Sen. Chris Dodd in place of ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, does not include single payer (which is supported by only one US senator, Bernie Sanders). The Kennedy-Dodd bill, at least in its initial draft, does not even include a “public option,” that is a Medicare-like program to exist alongside the private insurance companies. The House bill is being drafted by one current and two former co-sponsors of HR 676, Congressmen George Miller, Henry Waxman and Charles Rangel, but it avoids single payer, championing a public option instead. Other competing Senate bills are expected to complicate things further.