Democrats now embracing Sanders's 'Medicare for all' plan

One of the most glaring signs that the Democratic Party has shifted even farther leftward since the 2016 election is in the way most Democratic candidates are embracing Senator Bernie Sanders's single-payer health care plan, which he calls "Medicare for All."

As a candidate pushing this idea in 2016, Sanders was criticized by the Democratic Party establishment for proposing universal health care, telling voters it was politically unrealistic and a non-starter.  Hillary Clinton and congressional Democrats were proposing minor tweaks to Obamacare rather than overhauling the entire health care system.

But the hard lurch to the left by Democrats, which has seen dozens of Sanders-boosters now running for office, has made the "Medicare for All" plan more acceptable to a majority of Democrats.  In fact, most of the major candidates being mentioned in 2020 have come out in favor of it.

The Hill:

Democrats acknowledge the embrace of single-payer is part of a broader leftward shift for their party. But they say the experience of trying to make private markets work in ObamaCare – a system that Republicans have opposed at every turn – has changed their perspective on the likelihood of achieving universal coverage. 

"I think Bernie Sanders has definitely laid out a vision and created a movement toward Medicare for all, and no doubt that has been a big factor," said Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at CAP. 

Part of the need for the next step, he said, is "it's become clear we're not going to get any cooperation from Republicans in terms of making the current system work optimally, and there's a lot of frustration there."

The Medicare Extra plan is a way to take the "final step" to universal coverage after ObamaCare, Spiro said, and "we're beginning that debate now, which will continue for a few years on how best to finally reach that goal." 

"I don't think there's any question that a lot of Democrats think this is very safe ground now," said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who signed onto a Medicare for all bill in the House, along with 120 other Democrats, which is [sic] a majority of the conference. 

At the time Obamacare was passed in 2010, most Democrats knew there were problems with it and that eventually, a universal health care system would have to be established.  This was no secret, despite Obama and other Democrats dishonestly selling Obamacare as the perfect solution.

Everyone who knew anything about health care public policy was saying Obamacare was fatally flawed.  Republicans hoped it would collapse on its own.  Democrats hoped they could eventually fix it by passing a true national health care bill.  We've now reached a point where Obamacare is on its last legs, and something needs to be done, or millions of people will lose coverage.

Some Republicans are fine with this.  The moral hazard of putting the government in charge of people's health insurance means that some people are going to have to suffer in order to rid the country of Obamacare.  This is not a viable political strategy and never was.  Repealing Obamacare and replacing it with free-market health insurance reforms is a far more practical alternative.

Regardless, the Democrats have an excellent chance over the next two elections to gain control of the entire government.  They may not reach that goal in 2018, but unless they commit suicide and nominate someone like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to be president, it will be an uphill climb for Trump and the GOP to maintain control.

So the prospects of a universal single-payer health insurance plan – "Medicare for All" or some other variation of that – being passed as one of the first orders of business in a new Democratic Congress are rising.  Sanders's plan would be ruinously expensive and a bureaucratic nightmare to run. 

Those planning to stay home on election day next November because they are mad at Republicans should keep this in mind.

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