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Greg Sargent simplifies the question:

Public, government-run health care was key to not one, but both of Kennedy’s final health care initiatives.

One of these, of course, has already gotten lots of attention: The version of health care reform that emerged this spring from Kennedy’s Senate health and labor committee, which contained a public option.

But there’s another, oft-overlooked initiative Kennedy championed that makes the point even more strongly. I’m talking about the Medicare for All bill, which was wholly Kennedy’s baby.

Kennedy introduced Medicare for All in 2005 and 2007 and it never got voted out of committee. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a respected health care policy group, it was a “universal public insurance program” that would offer compulsory “Medicare type benefits” from cradle to grave. Public, government-run health care.

“It would have functioned similar to the way Medicare functions now,” Sarah Collins, a vice president at Commonwealth, told our reporter, Amanda Erickson. “It would have been basically a public health option, a single payer proposal.”

Let Senator Kennedy speak for himself, as he did in a press release after the HELP committee passed his bill, which he voted for in committee by proxy:

"I could not be prouder of our Committee. We have done the hard work that the American people sent us here to do. We have considered hundreds of proposals. Where we have been able to reach principled compromise, we have done so. Where we have not been able to resolve our differences, we have treated those with whom we disagree with respect and patience," Chairman Kennedy said. "As we move from our committee room to the Senate floor, we must continue the search for solutions that unite us, so that the great promise of quality affordable health care for all can be fulfilled." [emphasis mine]

Note that none of the "principled" Republicans on this committee voted for their colleague's bill, including John McCain and Orrin Hatch, those great bipartisans.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Teddy persuaded, not capitulated (10+ / 0-)

    A capitulator would not be ranked as the best Senator of the 20th Century.

    Visit http://theuptake.org/ for Minnesota news as it happens.

    by Phoenix Woman on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:17:46 PM PDT

  •  These "principled" Senators need to be schooled. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dump Terry McAuliffe, BigOkie, Piren

    yes that was a really bad pun

  •  Time to write Sen. Hatch (5+ / 0-)

    Sen. Hatch just made an incredible speech at Sen. Kennedy's memorial.

    I plan to write him and say thank you for the beautiful remarks and also to put his words into a vote.  A vote to honor his friend by voting for health care reform.

    Otherwise, his words will ring hollow.

    ======

    "Sick Around the World"

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/

    Watch it, sent it along to all you know.

    by oxfdblue on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:19:20 PM PDT

  •  Only in DC (10+ / 0-)

    could you look at Ted Kennedy the man, and his lifetime in politics, and conclude the answer to "What would Ted Kennedy do?" is "He would abandon everything he stood for to make Charles Grassley happy."

    Ted Kennedy did compromise, when there was a good faith at the table and a good faith compromise to be negotiated on.

    You don't honor Ted Kennedy's legacy by passing a bill that mandates everyone has to buy insurance but strips out all manner of cost controls and optional choices that prevent it from being an insurance industry bonanza... and then name it after Teddy.

    You name the strongest bill, one with a robust public option and real reforms in it, after Teddy.

    Let's make them do it.

    100% Concern Troll Proof

    by LeftHandedMan on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:23:24 PM PDT

  •  Congress has proven itself unable (7+ / 0-)

    to do anything but pass tax cuts and corporate bailouts. They are like surgeons equipped with nothing but children's aspirin or a barber equipped with nothing but a nail file.

    This country is facing a lot of problems; tax cuts and corporate bailouts won't get the job done. All the Republicans and most of the Democrats are pretty damn useless.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:24:20 PM PDT

    •  Yes, most Dems are pretty much useless (0+ / 0-)

      You are absolutely correct.

      The Democratic Party has thrilled the biology community by creating a whole new class of invertebrates, utterly worthless in office. David Michael Green

      by neaguy on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:03:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  mcjoan, you know I respect you. (0+ / 0-)

    I do think it's unfair to draw conclusions on what Ted Kennedy would have been willing to live with at the conference committee negotiating table in the end.  I think that kind of speculation is unfair.

  •  I'm pretty sure Teddy wouldn't do what the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatjourno, polar bear

    rest of these Democratic pushovers keep doing: giving everything away to the Republicans. It's getting more and more painful to watch.

    When an old man dies, a library burns down. --African proverb

    by Wom Bat on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:27:57 PM PDT

  •  OK, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, freakofsociety

    I'm posting this not because I am opposed to a public option. Just the opposite - I want it badly. In fact, I'd rather we had Medicare for all.

    But the question, it seems to me, isn't whether Ted Kennedy would have wholeheartedly supported a bill with a public option. It is far beyond obvious he did. For god's sake, not only did he promote that - he promoted single payer.

    The real question is what would he do if, for example, the bill that is reported out of reconciliation contained no public option.

    It seems to me everyone around here assumes he would vote against it or something.

    I'm not convinced that's true.

    There are a LOT of other things that are important in a health care bill. And frankly, we have actual evidence of what Kennedy would have supported.

    He wholeheartedly supported, and even spoke at rallies in favor of, Bill and Hillary's Health care plan. That plan had no public option.

    Again, let me be clear. Why am I posting this? Because I am really kind of disturbed by what is calcifying as conventional wisdome around here: that if there is no public option, a health care bill is evil. It's not necessarily the case. In fact, in the 1990s, Ted Kennedy championed a health care bill with no public option.

    •  Mandates without a public option are evil. (0+ / 0-)

      Evil on principle to force every man, woman and child to pay for the multi-million-dollar bonuses, the yachts and the corporate jets of people who have spent the last 30 years finding tricky ways to deny them health care.

      It's revolting and disgusting and just plain evil.

      The private health insurance business model is not based on making health care more efficient. It is based on finding ways to avoid paying claims.

      by expatjourno on Sat Aug 29, 2009 at 02:11:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope the other Democrats... (0+ / 0-)

    ...are paying attention.

    Teddy spoke for us. You know, the netroots that you treat like an ATM.

    Pass his bill, or we shut off the money.

  •  Exactly how polite should we be with liars? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatjourno, polar bear

    Civility, sure, that makes sense, but I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm getting sick of watching Democrats indulge endless and utterly immoral Republicans flail about, contradicting themselves left and right, lieing and lieing and lieing because they have no actual firm beliefs,only a loyalty towards their corporate sponsors.  I don't want to compromise with men and women who are ready and willing to work AGAINST the good of the American people for no reason other than to score a few political points against Obama.

    What's the point in conversin with these people who refuse to be swayed by reason?  Their arguments all work like this:  They start with a conclusion--Corporations should be able to continue pulling in record profits so they can continue to donate to me, so I will present ANY argument, no matter how false or mean-spirited, and continue to support a policy that is flat-out harmful towards America and its citizens.

    Bipartisanship is a means, not an end, and I doubt Kennedy would want the will of the people subverted just so Democrats can say they acted fairly towards a GOP opposition that has shown time and time again that they feel no compulsion whatsoever to treat Democrats with a reciprocal respect.

  •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

    "I could not be prouder of our Committee. We have done the hard work that the American people sent us here to do. We have considered hundreds of proposals. Where we have been able to reach principled compromise, we have done so. Where we have not been able to resolve our differences, we have treated those with whom we disagree with respect and patience," Chairman Kennedy said. "As we move from our committee room to the Senate floor, we must continue the search for solutions that unite us, so that the great promise of quality affordable health care for all can be fulfilled."

    I don't see the words "No public option, no peace" in there, though most around here have decided that the "Public Option" was the be all and end all of Ted's life.

    In fact, I see a lot of willingness to compromise in those words...a hallmark  of his legistlative career. Not centrism (he was a proud liberal)...compromise.

    Kennedy wanted Universal Health Care for all, preferably via single payer.  Beyond that, we don't know what kind of lesser compromise he'd eventually vote for.

    I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places...arousing and persuading and reproaching you.-Socrates

    by The Navigator on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:33:11 PM PDT

    •  Thus spake the Sentaor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      expatjourno

      To accomplish all of this, we have to cut the costs of health care. For families who've seen health-insurance premiums more than double—from an average of less than $6,000 a year to nearly $13,000 since 1999—one of the most controversial features of reform is one of the most vital. It's been called the "public plan." Despite what its detractors allege, it's not "socialism." It could take a number of different forms. Our bill favors a "community health-insurance option." In short, this means that the federal government would negotiate rates—in keeping with local economic conditions—for a plan that would be offered alongside private insurance options. This will foster competition in pricing and services. It will be a safety net, giving Americans a place to go when they can't find or afford private insurance, and it's critical to holding costs down for everyone.

      8/29 changed everything Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -6.13 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.10

      by wsexson on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 11:59:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nor would any Republican, p'wned (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatjourno, polar bear

    as they are by the insurance lobby and the idea that campaign finance reform is anathema to any purchase they may have on the idea of social equality, fairness ....and any claim they can ever make to the idea that big government is bad.

    For a Medicare for all system would prove to all that the Republican party is a base of elite, greedy oligarchs, too depraved, perverted and compromised by narcissism, vanity or hubris - you pick. Immoral, wretched, greedy divisive and - luckily - minority.

    First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. -Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by ezdidit on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 06:44:07 PM PDT

  •  Why shouldn't that become our campaign motto (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester, 714day, polar bear

    "Medicare For All"??

    Being kind to animals is a progressive virtue. -blue jersey mom

    by DontTaseMeBro on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:01:06 PM PDT

  •  Government run? WTF? (0+ / 0-)

    Under Kennedy's original plan in 1971, government would facilitate the payment of bills, not run health care.
    Of course, with Wilbur Mills in 1974 Teddy began his move over to what is now Obama's side: corporate-government alliance to strengthen private control over our lives.

    The Democratic Party has thrilled the biology community by creating a whole new class of invertebrates, utterly worthless in office. David Michael Green

    by neaguy on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:02:47 PM PDT

  •  What DID Ted do? HELP bill with public option. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FyodorFish, wsexson, polar bear

    We don't have to guess. We have the HELP Committee bill which is what Kennedy crafted as his compromise legislation.

    The bill states that US sets up a "strong public option" choice.

    End of story.

    To honor Senator Kennedy, to be honest about bipartisanship and compromise, pass Kennedy's HELP Committee bill as it is.

  •  So in other words, Kennedy wanted single-payer. (4+ / 0-)

    Or something extremely close to it.  It seems that a bill that merely bails out the health insurance companies is not what Kennedy would want at all.

    Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

    by jumpjet on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:21:02 PM PDT

  •  And, then, there's Huckleberry (0+ / 0-)

    the Baptist bible-thumper.  His take aon all this will be rational, right?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    Scumbags, to the last drop.

  •  Listening to PBS, Brooks and Shields, how the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    country is against the plan, and not a peep about the PO.  

    was a pretty good piece with t.r. reid.  

    but i'm shocked that shields agrees with brooks on this.

  •  Steamroller the GOP and then take credit... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for ending the private health insurance nightmare without a single Repuke vote.

    God DAMN it. The fucking, craven, spineless Democrats won't even argue that we wouldn't have Medicare or Social Security if the Repukes had had their way. I'm sick of Democrats putting friendships and loyalty to institutional prerogatives ahead of the best interests of their constituents.

    It is past time to consign the Repuke party to the dustbin of history. Wherever there has been human progress, it has always been the fucking Repukes standing in the way.

    The private health insurance business model is not based on making health care more efficient. It is based on finding ways to avoid paying claims.

    by expatjourno on Sat Aug 29, 2009 at 02:04:33 AM PDT

  •  Good job (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for actually mentioning Medicare For All in a story. It's good to see.

  •  The work goes on, the cause endures, (0+ / 0-)

    ...and the dream will never die.

    Support the public option. March on Washington for Healthcare and the public option.
    Marches are being organized in all major cities.
    Sign up at:
    http://www.marchforhealthcare.com/
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/...

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