In case you haven’t been keeping track, the movement for single-payer health coverage has been characterized by a series of close encounters with success, only to be trumped by the narrowest margins of failing political will. The most recent debacle occurred in California when State Sen. Leno’s measure lost out by two measly votes that could have been provided by a few majority-party Democrats (you can read about the account here).
Still, hope springs eternal.
In a bill about to be introduced as early as next week, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) is about to debut a bill that would empower states to request federal funds for their own healthcare insurance programs. Entitled the State-Based Universal Healthcare Act, it would essentially allow states to build their own Medicare-for-all system. By combining state funds with federal funds, states could have the fiscal largess to cover all their residents.
For Californians like me, we could provide universal health care coverage for everyone in our state by pooling our state funds with federal funds dedicated to our 4.5 million Medicare beneficiaries and 8 million Medi-Cal recipients. For the nation, McDermott’s bill could truly turbo charge the President’s Healthcare Reform Law which seeks to cover greater numbers of Americans. Creating a Medicare-for-all system at the state level gets to the heart of the matter, and eliminates the need for private insurance entirely. Businesses would not have to worry about being the couriers of healthcare coverage, removing this fiscal burden. Without having to fork over money to insurance companies for overhead and administration, we can place our healthcare dollars where they can make a difference: on health care.
McDermott stated in a recent Los Angeles Times article,”If you believe that quality healthcare is a human right, as I do, a publicly financed single-payer system with universal entitlement remains the ultimate goal.”
Keep your eyes on the prize, Rep. McDermott.
For those readers who feel the same way, take a moment to call Congressman McDermott’s office in Seattle at 206-553-7170 with your sentiments. (Email replies are not provided for people living outside his district.) The fight ahead will be tough, so let us champion our champions.