Single Payer — States’ Rights Edition


Last night, Norman Goldman interviewed the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus about his column describing a bill soon to be introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) that would allow states to introduce Medicare-for-all on a state-by-state basis:

If passed into law — admittedly a long shot with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives — McDermott’s State-Based Universal Healthcare Act would represent a game changer for medical coverage in the United States.

It would, for the first time, create a system under which a Medicare-for-all program could be rolled out on a state-by-state basis. In California’s case, it would make coverage available to the roughly 7 million people now lacking health insurance.

Think Progress describes how the bill answers some of the problematic features of the Affordable Care Act:

The bill could warm the hearts of liberals who expressed frustration with the Affordable Care Act’s more moderate approach of building on the existing health care system and should also satisfy GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor has sought to differentiate his 2006 health reform from Obamacare by rejecting a federal prescription for reform and promising to “pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens.”

Satisfy Republicans? Not a chance.

At Hullabaloo, David Atkins highlights the states’ rights feature of McDermott’s bill one would think would warm the hearts of the GOP:

In theory, this would be a great issue for conservatives truly interested in states’ rights. Any state that wanted a single-payer system would have one. Any state that didn’t want one, wouldn’t. But, of course, Republicans aren’t interested in states’ rights. They’re interested in maximizing private power and corporate profits at the expense of regular people.

Slippery doesn’t begin to describe arguments from the right. DFHs the right is still fighting fifty years after the Summer of Love couldn’t hold a candle to the professional right in the situational ethics department. One hears it when conservatives call in to progressive talk radio to pitch an argument. As soon as it is clear the argument is not getting traction, they switch to another. They are only interested in scoring points, gaining tactical advantage, and never serious about their own arguments. As Nixon once instructed a new staffer, “Flexibility is the first principle of politics.” In political debate, that first principle means arguments constructed so it’s heads, I win; tails, you lose. Small government, big government, whatever. Writes Atkins, “Whether it’s drug laws, gun laws, or any other issue on which federal power is convenient to them, they seem to reverse ground.” States’ rights is no exception, especially when it comes to providing health care to the working man.


  1. Tom Sullivan says:

    Susie Madrak links to this video of McDermott describing his state-based single payer bill, H.R. 1200: