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"Sen. Sanders looks forward to getting a vote on his amendment that makes clear the Senate believes that the United States must join every major country and guarantee healthcare as a right, not a privilege," said Sanders spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis. (Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr/cc)

GOP Single-Payer Ploy Shows Just How 'Very Sick' US Healthcare Debate Remains

The very fact "that guaranteed healthcare for all Americans can be used as a hammer by the Republicans demonstrates how far flung the political elite has become from the realities" faced by the public on a daily basis.

Jake Johnson

Amid soaring support for Medicare for All at the grassroots and among Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is attempting to "troll" Democrats by proposing a single-payer amendment during the debate over his party's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The effort, according to the Washington Examiner, is an attempt to both expose divisions within the Democratic Party and "force vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in red states in 2018 to take a position" on single payer.

"I believe that Bernie will take any and all opportunities to fight for single payer."
—RoseAnn DeMoro, National Nurses United
But the most prominent backer of Medicare for All in the Senate—Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—has no plans to play along with the Republicans' political stunt.

"We must guarantee healthcare as a right," Sanders wrote in a Facebook post, "but we will not participate in their sham."

"No amendment will get a vote until we see the final legislation and know what bill we are amending," Sanders spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis added in a statement. "Once Republicans show us their final bill, Sen. Sanders looks forward to getting a vote on his amendment that makes clear the Senate believes that the United States must join every major country and guarantee healthcare as a right, not a privilege."

The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on the so-called "skinny repeal" proposal, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would leave 16 million more Americans uninsured. Resistance groups have argued that this scaled back repeal plan is a last-ditch effort by Republicans desperate to come away from the debate with tangible progress toward their longstanding goal of eliminating the ACA.

Many prominent Democrats, in the face of Republican efforts to dismantle the ACA, have responded to popular pressure by publicly endorsing Medicare for All as the most viable alternative to the current for-profit status quo.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, urged supporters of Medicare for All to "trust" Sanders's judgement in opposing Daines's ploy by refusing to vote for his single payer amendment.

"I believe that Bernie will take any and all opportunities to fight for single payer," she told Common Dreams.

But DeMoro argued the very fact "that guaranteed healthcare for all Americans can be used as a hammer by the Republicans demonstrates how far flung the political elite has become from the realities" faced by the public on a daily basis.

With their single payer amendment, "Republicans are essentially trying to demonstrate that Democrats are hypocrites," DeMoro argued. "If there was ever an issue where the Democratic Party should not have been vulnerable, it's healthcare. Yet here we are."

"If the healthcare 'debate' was serious, what you would see in the media, the actual comparisons between the repeal, the ACA, and Medicare for All," DeMoro concluded. "The D.C. insiders, with rare exceptions, are caught in a political matrix while people's fears are manipulated.  It's a very sick America."


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