In today's New York Times (6/19/09), Kevin Sack's article about the prospects for healthcare reform devotes all of a paragraph to single-payer: Seeking broad popular support, the president and congressional leaders have played between the 40-yard lines of the health policy spectrum. Those who favor a single-payer, government-run insurance system have been marginalized, along with those who would unleash the system to the free market. This is exactly wrong. Single-payer is, in fact, broadly popular–at least according to many polls, including the most recent from the New York Times (1/11-15/09). The decision to marginalize single-payer is a decision to avoid [...]
In his June 11 Washington Post column about a Capitol Hill hearing featuring single-payer advocates (imagine that!), Dana Milbank sheds no light on the policy debate, but manages to reveal just how deeply enveloped he is inside the Beltway bubble. "Socialism is not dead," smirks Milbank. "It has, however, been confined to a House subcommittee." The columnist oozes condescension for single-payer activists at the hearing for harboring the quaint presumption they might get any real attention in Washington with their unpopular policy. Writes Milbank: President Obama said it would be a "huge disruption." Democratic lawmakers ignored the single-payer crowd so [...]
Advocates of a single-payer health plan in the United States aren't exactly accustomed to seeing their efforts covered in the corporate media–or in the headline of a major newspaper story, no less. The Washington Post reminded us on June 6 what happens when media finally get around to taking a look at the issue. Under the headline " 'Single-Payer' Supporters Challenge Democrats," reporter Dan Eggen deployed typically dismissive language in describing single-payer activists–writing that they had "struck again," referencing the "increasingly noisy" protesters who are "hounding" lawmakers. All this is part of an "offensive" that will "swamp" some apparently well-intentioned [...]
The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib wrote a piece today (5/20/09–subscription required) that offers California as a model for understanding the difficulties in overhauling the healthcare system: California's experience, in fact, represented a kind of trial run for the healthcare overhaul the president and Congress are about to attempt on the national level, offering useful lessons as well as warning signs about the potholes ahead. Well, yes and no. Seib writes that the "California example showed the importance of securing at least some bipartisan support, the need to reassure those who have insurance as well as those who don't, and [...]
It is quite telling that, even considering how in Ed Schultz's May 7 MSNBC interview of Physician for a National Health Program Margaret Flowers and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, he "slaps a gratuitous insult on the heroines of Code Pink" and "says he's against protesting and "getting arrested" as a rule but thinks it's OK if doctors in suits and 'educated professional people' do it" and even "pretends to believe (or actually believes) that President Obama favors considering the possibility of creating single-payer healthcare," activist and author David Swanson (OpEd News, 5/7/09) "can't recall a better corporate news video segment in [...]
A recent Frontline documentary (3/31/09) presented mandatory for-profit healthcare as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system, suggesting that this was the system all other developed nations use–even though the documentary was a sequel to an earlier Frontline report (4/15/08) that examined a wide range of international options, including Taiwan's single-payer model. If you'd like to ask Frontline why it distorted the healthcare policy options, you can take part in FAIR's Action Alert here. And you can leave copies of letters you send to Frontline in the comments of this post.
In the latest installment of a Columbia Journalism Review series on "special interest groups… at Obama's table" and "how the media are covering them," Trudy Lieberman (CJR.org, 3/6/09) reports that Saul Friedman, who writes a popular column called Gray Matters for Newsday, has been almost alone in writing about what he has called a "blackout" on discussions of a single-payer health system. Last month, AARP's chief (and super influential) lobbyist, John Rother, told Friedman that although there is broad support for single-payer, the cognoscenti didnÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢t feel that it was a pragmatic solution. While stating that "there are vocal pockets of [...]