Have a Hearing on Single-Payer in the Senate
"Single-payer on its merits can win. But we've been cut out by the doctors, the insurance companies and other special interests."
-- Tim Carpenter, Progressive Democrats of America
The Senate Finance Committee had numerous round-table discussions and hearings where the perspectives of doctors, nurses, unions, hospitals, private insurance, not-for-profit insurance, progressive and conservative economists were taken into account. But the only time that single-payer was mentioned was when doctors and nurses protested and were dragged from the chamber.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has sponsored single-payer legislation in the Senate and sits on the important Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), has said, "I think we will try to get a hearing in the HELP Committee. I think the importance of the hearing is not that it will change minds but that the American people -- and Congress -- should hear the facts about the enormous waste and bureaucracy and profiteering associated with private health insurance. Not to deal with that is mind-blowing."
Ignoring the perspectives of those who believe that a single-payer system based on American Medicare, providing equal benefits and health coverage regardless of an individual's job or income, makes the debate we see in Congress one-sided and unfair.
Write to the Democratic members of the HELP Committee and urge them to follow through on their pledge of an open, frank, and honest debate.
I appreciate your leadership on this issue, and look forward to the hearings and mark-up of the bill in the next month. But I am deeply concerned that so far, what should be a national debate on health care characterized by a frank, honest discussion of all options, has instead excluded entirely the perspective of advocates of a single-payer system.
We have heard from hospitals and unions, doctors and economists, private insurance and not-for-profit insurance. But the Senate has not held even one hearing on establishing Medicare for All, despite the fact that its popularity has never been higher, and many nations around the world enjoy the benefits of guaranteed public coverage that is not based on your job or on an individual's ability to pay.
Many Americans believe that single-payer system is the only way to lower costs, extend access, and improve the quality of our health care system fairly and efficiently. But those who do not still believe it should be part of the discussion. Your esteemed colleague Sen. Sanders has said, "I think the importance of the hearing is not that it will change minds but that the American people -- and Congress -- should hear the facts about the enormous waste and bureaucracy and profiteering associated with private health insurance. Not to deal with that is mind-blowing."
The American people deserve a real debate! Please use this next month to schedule a hearing on single-payer.