Wednesday, for the first time in American history, the US Senate was to debate and vote on single-payer healthcare. Sen. Bernie Sanders submitted an amendment to the Senate health bill that would have expanded Medicare to everyone.
But after a stall-tactic by Senate Republicans, requiring that the full 700-page amendment to be read, and, presumably, pressure from Senate Democrats, Sen. Sanders withdrew his single-payer amendment. History would have to wait.
The moment Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment, writers were quick to declare that single-payer healthcare is dead. But let’s be clear: While single-payer’s time is up in this session of Congress, the movement for single-payer not only lives on, but is growing stronger.
Mainstream liberals and Democrats are even starting to revolt against a health bill that’s looking more like a bailout of the private health insurance industry, than expanding and improving coverage to everyone. Soon, they’ll realize we need a movement for real reform, not incremental reform.
After all, Medicare for all is inevitable. A healthcare system, with private, for-profit insurance in the mix, is fundamentally unsustainable and will collapse. Sen. Sanders said this in his speech to the Senate after he withdrew his amendment:
“At the end of the day — not this year, not next year, but sometime in the future — this country will come to understand that if we are going to provide comprehensive quality care to all of our people, the only way we will do that is through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.”
We (single-payer advocates) will keep the movement alive. We will continue to educate everyone about American’s healthcare crisis. We will continue to advocate for the single-payer solution to this crisis. Many of those disenchanted by the Congressional process to reform healthcare will join us.
If we learned anything about healthcare reform this time around, it’s that our movement needs to grow so that Congress has no choice but to pass Medicare for all. Why is it that conservatives in Canada, and other countries with national health insurance, wouldn’t dare mess with their national health systems? Because the vast majority of the people would rise up and stop them.
We saw this in our own country as we watched, throughout the whole debate, people over 65 fiercely defend Medicare – whether or not they knew it was “government run.” We need that intense support from everyone, not just people over 65, before we can win. We know that everyone else would rise to its defense just as fervently if they were enrolled in Medicare. That’s why providing Medicare to everyone 55 and over was so abruptly cut out of the Senate discussion.
Single-payer healthcare is not dead in America. Healthcare-NOW!, along with all of our single-payer allies, will continue to organize, educate, fight for single-payer candidates, and stand up until one of the most basic of human rights is available to all. After the farce we’re all witnessing in Congress is over, we are only going to get stronger.
We will make history.
Thanks for all that you do,
Healthcare-NOW! National Staff and Steering Committee
P.S. Take a second to thank Sen. Sanders for his leadership. His DC office number is 202-224-5141.