Last week I wrote about those crazy people in Vermont who were campaigning against each other by claiming their opponent wasn’t enough of a single payer supporter. Now, Vermont’s socialist (literally) Senator makes the news:
Sanders, speaking at a health care rally at the Hetty Green Park in downtown Bellows Falls on Saturday afternoon, said that he and other members of Congress would also introduce legislation that would roll back to 2014 the current 2017 restriction for states to apply for a waiver in order to implement their own systems. He said Democratic Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and John Conyers of Michigan would be co-sponsoring the legislation with him.
But Sanders said that if Vermont opts for a single-payer system, as most of the Democratic candidates for governor have pledged to enact, he will take the state’s case directly to President Obama.
I’ve met Senator Sanders. He’s an impressive guy, and I don’t get the sense he scares easily. I don’t doubt he will do this. He may not get the legislation passed, but I am sure he will campaign hard to get the HHS waiver if Vermont decides to go at it with a state-based single-payer system. And that’s not a pipe dream. This is from back in April:
By a vote of 91-42, the Democratic controlled House passed its own version of legislation passed earlier by the Senate. Both bills call for designing a single-payer system, in which a government agency would administer and make all payments for health care.
The House version calls for that as well as a parallel design of a system with a public option for health insurance, meaning a system in which a health insurance program offered by the government would compete against those offered by private companies. The House’s version also would expand previously enacted reform efforts.
Either system would require federal approval.
The Senate focuses on single-payer as the goal, but also calls for two alternative designs. Differences will have to be worked out in a conference committee of three members from each chamber, and it’s not clear what Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, will do with the bill.
Heidi Tringe, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said Douglas likes parts of the bill but has “strong concerns” about others. He has not said if he would sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.
You’ve got a state House which overwhelmingly passed the bill, a state Senate which is open to compromise, a Republican governor who’s not totally opposed, Democratic opponents for governor who are climbing over each other to show their support, and a US Senator committed to getting the federal approval they need.
I get that the media like their news to fit into a nice narrative. Right now that narrative is that there is an epic battle between those on the left who support the ACA and those on the right who want to repeal it. I get that Vermont and its single-payer people don’t fit that narrative. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. There are interesting things going on in the far northeast.