Single Payer Healthcare
Still more popular than Obamacare
Boosters for the Obama administration claim that his Affordable Care Act is a legacy that qualifies Obama for permanent residence in the pantheon of progressive domestic policy presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Black Agenda Report takes the opposite position: that, in 2009, newly-elected President Obama set the cause of universal healthcare back many years with his surprise endorsement of a Republican health insurance plan, hatched in the bowels of the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s and championed by GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996 and Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney shortly thereafter. Obama’s bill was written by the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, and brutally imposed on the Left wing of the Democratic Party, whose members were threatened with loss of party campaign support if they resisted.
Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the last holdout for the so-called Public Option, a scaled down alternative to Obama’s corporate-based scheme that finally disappeared altogether—as did Representative Kucinich’s seat in Congress, which was redistricted out from under him.
The White House justified its abandonment of Single Payer healthcare, claiming compromise was necessary in order to get Republican votes. But the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, and Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote.
As a consolation for the loss of the Public Option, Obama offered to create non-profit health insurance co-ops in the various states. However, more than half of these co-ops have gone out of business in an environment dominated by cutthroat healthcare capitalists.
Our biggest concern seven years ago was that Obama was setting in concrete the corporate role in healthcare, planting the insurance and drug companies right smack in the middle of a multi-trillion dollar river of federal money—and that it would take decades to pry their profiteering hands loose. We still feel that way. With every year, more and more companies and jobs are tied directly to the cash flow of the privatized system Obama created. As Bruce Dixon has warned, conservative judges are increasingly likely to rule that rolling back corporate pillaging of healthcare would constitute an illegal “taking” and seizure of reasonably-expected profits. Under Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade rules treaty, the corporations would win.
Therefore, it is encouraging that majorities of Americans still support Single Payer healthcare, in the form of Medicare for All. A new Kaiser Poll shows 58 percent of the public are in favor of Medicare for All, including 81 percent of Democrats. That’s only slightly below the high mark of Single Payer support in the months before new President Barack Obama announced that he wasn’t really talking about Single Payer when he used the term “universal coverage”—he meant universal payment to private corporations, under penalty of law. His plan, Obamacare, remains less popular than Medicare for All. Obama’s legacy is that he has made it far more difficult to dislodge the corporations from their parasitic role in U.S. healthcare.
—Black Agenda Report, December 22, 2015