Democrats, Including Bernie Sanders, Won’t Fight for Medicare for All


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | February 1, 2017

Democrats will tell you that the Republicans are the reason the U.S. is the only industrial country in the world that does not have universal, government-provided health care. But, that’s not true. Despite their legislative majorities, the Republicans are not strong enough on their own to defeat a concerted campaign for a Medicare for All program, which is supported by overwhelming majorities of the public, including a very large percentage of Republicans.

The U.S. does not have a single payer health care system because corporate Democratic leadership, most shamefully under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have confused the public about what is, and what is not, “universal” health care. They have offered counterfeit, private industry-based schemes – “Hillary-care” in 1993, Obamacare in 2009 — and fraudulently called them universal health care, when in fact these were bait-and-switch schemes designed to prevent the successful passage of a genuine single payer health program.The numbers tell the tale. When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992, two-thirds of the public – 66 percent – told pollsters they supported a “national health insurance plan financed by tax money.”

The Clintons instead responded with a secretly-hatched “managed competition” plan that relied on private insurers and took more than 1,300 pages to explain. “Hillary-care” died ignominiously in Congress.By late 2006, an amazing 69 percent of Americans were telling pollsters they agreed with the statement that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.”

Barack Obama was getting ready to make his run for the White House. He claimed to want something he called “universal health care.” Most people assumed he meant a single payer, Medicare for All-type program, but instead, Obama dusted off an old Republican private insurance-based plan devised by the far-right Heritage Foundation and later adopted by Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Not only was Obamacare unpopular on its own merits, but because Obama had used the trick terminology “universal health care” to describe his program, the public became confused and demoralized about the whole subject of government health care. By 2016, only 44 percent of the people had a positive reaction to the term “single payer health coverage.” However, nearly two-thirds of those polled — 64 percent — liked the idea of Medicare-for-All, which is a form of single payer. Medicare for the elderly is probably the nation’s most popular social safety net program, and younger folks would like to be part of it, too, including lots of low-income Republicans.

Even Donald Trump used to be for it. Medicare-for-All is an idea whose time has come — again! And, with Obamacare being dismantled and a health care emergency looming, one would think the Democrats would seize the time to push for a truly universal health care plan with such broad support. But, corporate Democratic leadership — just like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Bernie Sanders will help them do it, because he’s still sheep-dogging for corporate Democrats.

Source: Democrats, Including Bernie Sanders, Won’t Fight for Medicare for All

9 thoughts on “Democrats, Including Bernie Sanders, Won’t Fight for Medicare for All

    • PeaceFrog, I think Glen Ford is faulting Sanders for refusing to back John Conyers’ Medicare for All bill – to this point there is no Senate sponsor for a Senate Medicare for All bill. Sanders’ senate bill is S915 – companion to HR1200 – introduced many years ago by Dr Jim McDermott, who has retired from Congress. HR1200 would set up a public fund to finance health care for all US residents. It would be financed by a health care income tax and would prohibit insurance companies from offering benefits that duplicate those offered by HR1200.


  1. Medicare is not the answer. Medicare needs to be replaced because it is just too expensive since many people on Medicare also pay for a medigap policy that pays for services that Medicare does not pay for. Medicare does not include in its coverage, dental, vision or hearing but will however, pay for penis pumps. Men don’t need a penis pump since erectile dysfunction is not a condition that would kill them. A non-treated tooth infection could kill a person. In fact, I just read where a father in California died from an infected tooth and he was in his 20s. An eleven year old child died several years ago in Prince Georges County, Maryland from infection in a tooth that spread to his brain and killed him.

    Medicare only pays for 80% of health care costs and the patient must pay the rest and those who can afford supplemental insurance polices take them out to cover the 20% of what Medicare does not pay. So, again, in my opinion, we need a Medicare replacement insurance program that would cover everyone and be paid for by our tax dollars that we are already paying into the system. If other industrialized nations can do this, so can we. And one last point, many patients on Medicare are now being directed to Certified Nurse Practitioners because doctors are fed up with the paltry payments they receive from Medicare. I know this to be true because everyone I know is seeing a CNP as opposed to an MD. I have private insurance and that is the only reason I get to see an MD as opposed to a CNP. And though there are some good CNPs, there are also some bad ones who have misdiagnosed people, left and right. I do realize that doctors do this too but I would feel better about hearing what my problems are from a doctor and not some jumped up nurse.


  2. I’m well aware of Medicare’s drawbacks, Shelby. In the area of mental health, the patient copay is 50%, which is virtually impossible for people who are chronically mentally ill. I think Glen Ford reckons that Medicare for All will be easier to pass than HR 1200, which has languished in the house for nearly 30 years now. I suspect his view is based on polling showing that Medicare is quite popular with the baby boomers who show up religiously at every election and vote.


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