Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has no time for single payer.
But Senator Lindsey Graham is saying yes to single payer for sick people.
That’s what came out of a meeting with Senator Manchin with single payer activists earlier this month in Charleston, West Virginia.
Also present during the meeting, via Skype, was University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Gerald Friedman.
According to notes taken during the meeting by a participant, Manchin dismissed single payer in the the Senate, saying “my interest is in finding a workable pathway.”
“Republicans are not going to back off of a private sector market,” Manchin said. “Mitch McConnell is determined to vote to repeal. But he wants to get rid of taxes to pay for what we want to do. To do that they’ve got to cut services. They’re not trying to look for efficiencies or work with preventative care.”
“A few of us — Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and others — are looking for a better way. Lindsey Graham says — let’s put everyone with a pre-existing condition on Medicare.”
“That’s a big leap forward,” Manchin said. “But I told him — we have to change the tax structure. We can’t accumulate more debt.”
“There is not another Republican who supports what Lindsey has said,” Manchin said. “But people are listening. It gives us an opening we didn’t have before. I told Chuck Schumer to act like he doesn’t like it and wait and see what happens.”
Reached by telephone, Friedman said Graham’s proposal could easily drift into single payer.
“If Senator Graham is talking about anybody with pre-existing conditions, that would be up to 75 percent of the population,” Friedman said. “Most people have a pre-existing condition — high blood pressure, depression, stress.”
“Medicare would be taking all the sick people, except for the first time they get sick,” Friedman said. “It would be 75 percent of medical costs in the United States. It would easily drift into single payer.”
“You are healthy, you are on private insurance. You get sick. Private health insurance covers your first trip to the doctor. Then at that point, you have a pre-existing condition. They you get shifted into Medicare.”
Friedman said there have been proposals over the years to cover one disease at a time.
“One organ is currently covered by Medicare — that’s the kidney,” Friedman said. “Kidney disease is covered by Medicare now, regardless of age. If you need dialysis, you are covered by Medicare.”
Friedman says he doubts if Graham’s proposal will get much support.
“If the Republicans want to repeal and replace, they should just adopt single payer,” Friedman said. “It’s more efficient than Obamacare, it’s cheaper than Obamacare.”
But isn’t Graham’s proposal just a bailout of the private health insurance industry?
“Yes, but it will erode their business very quickly,” Friedman said. “In the short run, it’s great for private health insurance. It gets rid of everybody at risk. It lower rates dramatically. You only have healthy people left in their pool. But these companies make money off of sick people too.”
Friedman said that Bernie Sanders will introduce his single payer bill within the next couple of weeks. Friedman said that he has heard that there as many as nine Senators who will co-sponsor the Sanders single payer bill.