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Single-payer gains steam

single payerApparently, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) didn’t realize the fight he was picking when he said single-payer health care was “off the table.”  Well, now he knows, and he’s admitted it was a mistake. He says he’s working to get charges dropped against the 13 single payer activists who disrupted congressional hearings on health care, and he’s apologised for excluding supporters.

Thanks Baucus, but apologies won’t help the 20,000 people who die each year because they lack health insurance, nor will they help the 62% of people who file for bankruptcy for medical reasons. I realize you and President Obama are in a hurry to push through health care reform by this fall — but everybody loses if your reforms are inadequate and ineffective, right? Come around and admit it, because you know we’re right — nobody should be excluded from health care due to their inability to pay. Health care is a right!

Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), told Politico today:

While [Baucus] did say it was probably a mistake not to have given a full hearing to single-payer in the past, he announced no intention of opening up the hearings on single payer in the future and we will therefore need to continue to press him.

So keep up the good work, single-payer activists!

On the other hand, Baucus’ meeting with single-payer advocates, including  Dr. Himmelstein, National Nurses Movement, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (author of S. 703, a single-payer measure) is a significant step forward.

While we haven’t seen any indication that single-payer is back on the table yet (aside from TPM’s post … we hope you’ve seen something we haven’t!). Make sure your congressional representatives knows  you support single-payer.

flickr photo by Steve Rhodes