Single Payer Gets Its Day on the Floor

Rep Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

Rep Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

This seems unlikely to make a practical difference, but I’m glad to see that House leaders will let a single-payer bill get to the floor:

Seeking to dampen liberal anger about deals cut with centrists, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said House leaders have agreed to allow a floor vote on a government-run, single-payer system.

“A lot of members on our committee want a vote on that,” said Waxman said in an interview. “I believe their wishes will be accommodated.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) offered a single-payer amendment in the Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday, but withdrew it after Waxman said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had promised a floor vote.

To clarify, the idea behind a single-payer system is not to have a “government-run health care system” but to have a health care system similar to the one we currently have, but a health insurance system that’s like Medicare. To avoid confusion, the best thing is probably to press the media to characterize this proposal as a “universal Medicare” or “Medicare for all” plan. Medicare for all is not my favorite vision of health care; if it were totally up to me we’d construct something that’s more like the system they have in Singapore that would have a direct public provision element, a single-payer element, and a forced savings element. But Universal Medicare would be better than the status quo, and better than the “official” bills being pushed by congressional leaders.