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Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections

New report finds that of the 561 Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives in 2018, 271 of them support Medicare for All or single payer

'One of the biggest questions about Medicare for All from Democrats is about viability. Sure, it’s great to have a hypothetical debate about what system would produce the best outcomes while reducing costs and covering everyone, but how can it actually get done?' (Image: Kingston Creative)

Medicare for All is politically viable in 2018.

That’s according to a new report from Alex Panagiotopoulos and Kingston Creative.

The report is titled – Is Medicare for All Politically Viable? A Guide to 561 Congressional Candidates.

The report finds that of the 561 Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives in 2018, 271 of them support Medicare for All or single payer. That’s 48 percent.

Of the 192 Democrats currently in the House, 121 have signed on to HR 676, the single payer bill in the House and 71 have not. That’s 63 percent.

“People don’t want to be that person who is out on single payer island with something that is not politically viable, not popular,” Panagiotopoulos told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “I want to show that single payer is part of the mainstream. Two-thirds of the Democrats in the House already support it. You are pretty much on the minority side if you are not supporting Medicare for All at this point.”

About two thirds of the Democrats in the House support it, but only half of the non incumbent candidates support it. How do you explain that difference?

“That’s hard to explain. Part of it is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has been clear that they prefer their candidates not support Medicare for All. A lot of candidates who think you need money and DCCC support to win – that’s definitely shading some people to have cagey, vague language. They are hoping for DCCC support.”

You also asked the question – if you favor single payer, can you raise money?

“The Medicare for All candidates and non Medicare for All candidates raised pretty similar amounts of money. Pro Medicare for All candidates have raised $55 million and spent $21 million. The non Medicare for All candidates have raised $70 million and spent $23 million.”

“Four of the top five fundraisers in the country support Medicare for All. Randy Bryce, Andy Thorburn, Gilbert Cisneros and Daniel Koh have all raised over $1 million each.”

What did you find for swing districts?

“I went by the Cook Political Report. There were 23 likely or leaning Democratic districts. In those 23 districts, there are 51 Democratic candidates — 27 of them support Medicare for All, 24 do not.”

“There are 23 toss up districts. NY 19 is a toss up district. There are 80 total Democratic candidates in those 23 toss up districts — 33 support Medicare for All, 47 do not.”

“There are 48 likely or leaning Republican districts. There are 150 total Democratic  candidates. And 75 support it and 75 do not.”

Do you have health insurance?

“No.”

How long has it been since you haven’t had insurance?

“Five years now.”

Have you checked into Obamacare?

“As small business owners, we don’t make a lot of money. We make a little too much to qualify for any subsidies. Income is variable. One of the things we have run into when we talk to centrists liberals, especially people in the tech world, they will say things like – if the Obamacare website were better, then it would have been easier for you to navigate and you would have had health insurance.”

“There is no website that would have made it possible for us to afford healthcare.”

How much were the premiums?

“The premiums ranged from between $200 to $400 a month. But the deductibles were so high. A $10,000 deductible is a lot of money. And beyond that there is no guarantee that the procedures we needed would be covered. And even if something happens and you go to hospital and you have insurance, there is no guarantee that the hospital is in network.”

What about catastrophic insurance?

“That’s what we are talking about. The hospital is obligated to treat you regardless of your ability to pay. So, this system doesn’t make sense.”

Was your motivation here personal?

“Totally. What’s in it for me? That’s the question. I don’t want to speak for everybody, but I know that there is definitely a profile of a Democrat that doesn’t see what the big deal is about Medicare for All and doesn’t understand why I’m a one issue voter. There is a profile. It’s a member of the professional managerial class who has insurance, who is comfortable and is very into respectability politics and coming together and always moving to the right. I was radicalized by starting a business and seeing how hard it is to get ahead and how little of a safety net there is.”

“If we weren’t running the business and experiencing this, it would be harder to see the need for Medicare for All.”

Was part of it that you worked eight years in the healthcare industry?

“Yes. Seeing a community hospital system with a total budget of $200 million a year and they spend a million dollars a year on marketing. The marketing isn’t to keep people healthy and to keep people out of the hospital. The marketing is to get people to get knee replacement surgery and drive people into the most profitable procedures. That inside experience solidified it for me. And also on the community hospital level, seeing the bailouts. They are really struggling to keep the lights on in community hospitals. They are being forced into this position of pushing the most profitable procedures. They need constant bailouts to keep the lights on and pay employees.”

“Yes, seeing that firsthand definitely shaped my view on this.”

(Note: For the complete q/a format Interview with Alex Panagiotopoulos, see 32 Corporate Crime Reporter 12(13), March 19, 2018, print edition only.)

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Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.  He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

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