If California Can’t Pass Single Payer, the Democrats Will Never Really Win

Most of the attention these days on Congress (the opposite of progress) has centred on the Senate’s inability to pass a replacement for the misnamed Affordable Care Act.  Let me make my first stipulation: the “repeal and replace” business is pure political theatre, has been from the start, and in a sense Donald Trump has called their bluff on it.  (That’s why I dropped the subject when the ACA was passed.)  If I were Trump, I’d let it go down the tube and figure out a “Plan B” to manoeuvre Congress into doing something really worthwhile.

But there’s another legislative drama going on about health care, and it’s in California:

Supporters of a stalled single-payer healthcare bill returned to the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday to express their anger that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) shelved the measure more than a week ago.

Backers of the bill, SB 562, disrupted a separate hearing on the Assembly floor by unfurling a banner from the gallery before being escorted out. They also attended a hearing of the Assembly Rules Committee, the panel in which Rendon held back the bill, holding up signs on which they’d written personal healthcare stories. And a small contingent staged a “sit-in” near Rendon’s office, chanting “SB 562.”

Single-payer is the left’s “holy grail” from a political standpoint.  But they didn’t pass it when the ACA was enacted and the California Senate can’t bring it self to do it.  Jerry “Governor Moonbeam” Brown doesn’t like it either.  This doesn’t make sense, especially in the single-party state that California has become.

The goal of single-payer is to have mediocre health care for everyone at around 10% of GDP, and the ACA got us half of that.  (Guess which half?)  Under single-payer, people who want something better will have to sneak out of the country for it, hoping that they won’t be caught in a shame/honour reaction the way Charlie Gard did.

Some people say that single-payer is unaffordable. But that’s simply not true.  Once the single entity gets control of the checkbook, if that entity has the political will, they can spend as much or as little as they like to the extent they can stand the political blowback.  That is one of the big “ifs;” the current system allows for blame shifting to outside entities, which is one reason many on the left oppose single-payer, even though they’re loathe to admit it.

At this point in American history, it is my idea that the American people are so deeply into their entitlement mentality and tired of running around for all the “choices” they have in health care that single-payer is what we will, in the end, have.  Politically the left have a winner if they play their cards and pull themselves together long enough to pull it off.

If the Democrats, who are just about the only game in the state, can’t pass single-payer, the nirvana they’ve promised us is a mirage.  And that’s something to think about as we stumble through another election cycle.

3 thoughts on “If California Can’t Pass Single Payer, the Democrats Will Never Really Win”

  1. As a Brit with a Health Service that ranges from excellent to very poor I can only observe the ACA game from afar.
    I would comment on the Charlie Gard affair though – this is really an ethical issue – even if some recovery is possible the likelihood (based on similar cases) is that he will grow up severely disabled. The question that no-one dare ask is “is it simply God’s will that he should have died” and medical science is simply keeping him alive. The other very serious question is for whose benefit is the battle through the legal system for. Charlie does not care!

    1. The “ACA game” is a good way of characterising the whole business.

      I think our problem is that we have more technology to keep people alive than we know what to do with. In this case, since they had raised the funds to get care elsewhere, I think the NHS did a classic “shame/honour” reaction: they were shamed by the fact they couldn’t do anything, and scared that the cure might be somewhere else, so they restored their honour by trying to have him “die with dignity.” That didn’t quite work out as they had anticipated. It used to be that single-payers like the NHS didn’t mind people seeking help abroad (the wealthy have done it for years) but with so many control freaks in power these days, it’s different.

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