How should serious supporters of healthcare reform spend the month of August?
Not by getting trapped in the narrow “debate” between “party of no” Republicans who favor no reform at all, and Blue Dog Democrats, whose “reform” is to make a bad system worse.
And not by campaigning for “buzz words – “public option,” “employer mandates” – or whatever President Obama or Speaker Pelosi happen to favor this week. There will be plenty of advertising and organizing to that end, including a $15 million expenditure by the AFL-CIO.
Americans who want to tip the debate in the most progressive direction should take advantage an opening provided at the last minute during negotiations to get a bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
And they should do so by advocating even more aggressively for single-payer health care.
One of the many side deals that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Energy and Commerce chair Henry Waxman, D-California, had to cut to get the votes they needed for the compromise reform measure that was approved before the House broke for its August recess will allow a floor vote on real reform.
Waxman sidetracked a move by New York Congressman Anthony Weiner to replace his proposal with a single-payer plan by agreeing – with Pelosi’s approval – to schedule a vote by the full House on the plan to replace the current for-profit system with a Medicare-style plan that covers all Americans and controls costs.
“A lot of members on our committee want a vote on that,” Waxman, a California Democrat who has worked closely with the Speaker to advance a moderate reform agenda, said of single-payer. “I believe their wishes will be accommodated.”
Weiner is declaring a sort of victory, saying that: “Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their Member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice.”