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Health care advocacy groups and progressives in and out of Congress are watching the Supreme Court as anxiously as any of us. But, in the potential defeat of the mandate by the Republican wing of the court, some see a real opportunity: Medicare for all. That's an opportunity, though, that elected Democrats are going to have to recognize, and start fighting for.
“The right fought [the Affordable Care Act] just as bitterly as they would have fought if it was single payer,” said Chuck Idelson, spokesman for National Nurses United — a union and trade association of registered nurses that has consistently supported Medicare for all.
“Medicare continues to be an extremely popular reform — it’s one of the most popular reforms in U.S. history,” said Idelson. [...]
[I]f the conservative Supreme Court deals a death blow to Obama’s signature legislation, the calculus could change.
“We would certainly encourage him … to say, ‘OK the court didn’t like the way this law was drawn up, ok then let’s go back to square one, let’s do a law that has no constitutional problem—Medicare,’” Idelson said. “And they could probably do this in one page.”
It's can't happen in this Congress, not with the current House. But hopefully we've all learned the lesson of trying to meet Republicans halfway; as Idelson argues, Republicans were going to fight whatever this president and a Democratic congress came up with, no matter what. One lawmaker who learned that lesson well is Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). He tells Greg Sargent he's ready to fight for Medicare for all.
“If we have repeal by the Supreme Court, we’re back to ground zero — the Reublican goal of a health care system that’s in the iron grip of the insurance companies,” Welch said. “Our question has to be very much in your face to Mr. Boehner — where’s your Plan A?”
“If we argue for Medicare for All, it would reinforce our commitment to Medicare and highlight the Republican plan to turn it iinto a voucher system and unravel it,” Welch continued.[...]
“It works, it’s popular, and people know what it is,” Welch said. “It’s got a lot of stuff we should have done from the beginning.”
There's really not a downside for Democrats politically in pushing Medicare for all, presuming the Republican wing of the Supreme Court prevails tomorrow. Congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney are actively working against expanding health insurance, and they are actively working to curtail Medicare. The Romney-endorsed Paul Ryan budget that they all voted for does just that. (For an example on how smart it would be for Democrats to run on Medicare, look at how Republicans in tight races are running against the Ryan plan.)
A Medicare for all platform allows the Democrats to run against the activist Supreme Court, to run against the horribly unpopular Romney-Ryan Medicare plan, to provide the real contrast between the parties that many voters have struggled to see. And it would excite the hell out of the Democratic base; it would give us something to fight for. What's the worse that could happen? Republicans calling Medicare socialism?