Despite the fact that 81% of all Democrats support single payer, this past Saturday the full DNC Platform committee voted 92 to 66 against an amendment that would have added Medicare for All to the Democratic Party platform. Michael Lighty from National Nurses United proposed the amendment.
Instead, the Platform Committee added language calling for increased funding for non-profit medical clinics, a public option and the right for individuals over the age of 55 to purchase Medicare coverage. While these reforms may increase access to healthcare for some Americans, the fact remains that, barring a successful floor fight at the Convention, the official platform of the Democratic Party will continue to view healthcare as a commodity to be purchased rather than a public good and fundamental human right.
The inclusion of a proposed public option in the draft platform is no substitute for a commitment to a social insurance model like Medicare for all. A public option would do little to address the waste and profit taking in our dysfunctional healthcare system because it would have to compete with multiple private insurance plans. Nor would it make healthcare a birthright for everyone in America. Moreover, many economists have predicted that a public option would be doomed by the same adverse selection problems that have plagued the non-profit co-ops established under the ACA.
Build a Social Movement.
We are disappointed, but not surprised, by Saturday’s vote. After all, Hillary Clinton repeatedly said during the presidential primary debates that the United States would “never” have a single payer Medicare for All system. This view implies that the power of the medical industrial complex is so great that it will forever block the aspirations and needs of the overwhelming majority of the American people.
We launched the Labor Campaign for Single Payer precisely to confront this concentrated corporate power. In our Mission Statement we declared that, “Winning this fight will require more than an assembly of organizational interests — it will require the building of a social movement around the issue and an uncompromising commitment to “Medicare for All” healthcare as part of a greater commitment to social justice.”
This has been an extraordinary primary season. The issue of single-payer Medicare for All has been injected into the national dialog like never before. The continued disappointments and limitations of the Affordable Care Act will ensure that this issue stays front and center in the national consciousness.
Despite the best efforts of the DNC, the RNC and the Medical Industrial Complex, the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. The American people will continue to demand healthcare justice. And we in the Labor Campaign will continue our work before, during and after the elections to help build the kind of social movement powerful enough to defeat the profiteers and make healthcare a right for everyone in America.