On Medicare anniversary, lawmakers tout inevitability of single payer

By Sahil Kapur for the Raw Story

A trio of progressives in Congress invoked the 45th birthday of Medicare Friday to call for a national single payer health insurance system, predicting it’s “inevitable” if Americans want lower costs.

“It has never been more important to have a strong movement behind Medicare for All,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and John Conyers (D-MI) in a letter addressed to “friends of health care for all.”

The trio, all of whom have sponsored single payer bills, argued that cost controls are insufficient in the health reform law enacted March and claimed the growing need to save money would galvanize support for such a system.

“As we honor Medicare‚Äôs 45th birthday today, I am proud to say that the movement for Medicare for All remains strong and vibrant,” Kucinich said.

While various lawmakers have endorsed single payer proposals, it remains far out of the reach of Congress due to the prevalence of anti-government public sentiments and the political influence of the private insurance industry, which would be torn down.

The Affordable Care And Patient Protection Act, enacted by President Barack Obama in March, is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to cover nearly all Americans and reduce the deficit. It has no new public insurance programs.

Although Sanders, Kucinich and Conyers all voted for the new law, they said in the letter that it “does not adequately contain costs” for Americans.

“In my view, the single-payer approach is the only way we will ever have a cost-effective, comprehensive health care system in this country,” said Sanders.

A Commonwealth Fund report last month found that Americans spend roughly twice as much on medical costs than residents of other industrialized nations yet the US system lags in areas of quality, efficiency and equity.

Sanders and Kucinich have led on pushing for national or state-based single payer programs in the Senate and House respectively, but have failed to garner the necessary support.

According to reports, Medicare, a single payer system for the elderly in America, has lower overhead costs and higher satisfaction rates than private insurance on average.

The White House and Democratic National Committee on Friday proclaimed their commitment to sustaining and strengthening Medicare.

“We believe Medicare for All is inevitable in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is up to all of us to determine when the inevitable becomes reality.”

Read the open letter here (.pdf).


  1. Deanna on August 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    The citizens of Missouri need your help. Yesterday Proposition C was passed in Missouri. Although Proposition C was worded that you should not be required to buy insurance, Republicans are now braging that this gives them the right to overturn the healthcare bill. I am a local citizen who would like to fight this. I tried to contact the local chapter of Healthcare Now in Saint Louis but they have not returned my calls. What can I do? We need help!

  2. Grover Syck on August 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Single payer, the sooner the better. If a good example is needed, just look north.

    Talk to anyone who has used both system, and you will get almost 100% in favor of the Canadian system. Government run or regulated single payer health care is then only answer.