Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she would allow a floor vote later this year on a single-payer option for healthcare reform after Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, agreed to remove an amendment he proposed for inclusion in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s version of a healthcare reform bill, which the panel passed by a vote of 31 to 28 late Friday.
That legislation–H.R. 3200–aims to overhaul the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical industries. It requires all Americans to purchase health insurance.
Prior to the committee’s vote, Weiner spoke passionately about an alternative solution–the single-payer option–and why he believed it was a superior plan than the one passed out of Waxman’s committee.
Single-payer is a term used to describe how a universal health care system would be financed. [Please see David Swanson’s special reports for The Public Record on the single-payer solution here and here.]
“It refers to one entity acting as administrator, or ‘payer,'” according to Physicians for a National Health Program. “In the case of healthcare, a single-payer system would be setup such that one entity—a government run organization—would collect all health care fees, and pay out all healthcare costs.
“In the current US system, there are literally tens of thousands of different health care organizations—HMOs, billing agencies, etc. By having so many different payers of healthcare fees, there is an enormous amount of administrative waste generated in the system.
“In a single-payer system, all hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers would bill one entity for their services. This alone reduces administrative waste greatly, and saves money, which can be used to provide care and insurance to those who currently don’t have it.”
Some liberal and progressive Democrats on the Energy Committee were unhappy by the concessions Waxman and other Democratic leaders made in the markup of the legislation in order to win support of centrist Blue Dog Democrats, who have grown concerned with the cost of overhauling the healthcare system. So Weiner vowed to introduce a single-payer amendment in the Energy Committee’s bill that would have essentially created a universal healthcare system for the entire country.
But Henry Waxman, the chairman of the Energy Comittee, had a quid pro quo for Weiner. He told the congressman that he spoke with Pelosi and she “pledged” to allow “this issue to come to the House floor for a vote” if Weiner withdrew his amendment.
Weiner appeared to be surprised at the news.
“Mr. Waxman, am I to understand correctly that [Pelosi] has said that if I withdraw [the amendment] here in this venue I and my colleagues will have an opportunity to present this before the entire House and the entire country for a debate with the possibility being that this will be adopted as an alternative to the bill that we’re going to pass out of the committee?” Weiner asked Waxman.
Waxman did not respond to Weiner’s specific questons. However, he reiterated his previous statement and told Weiner that Pelosi “will allow this to be brought up on the House floor and debated and voted on.”
“I gladly accept that offer because I think there should be an alternative to what is coming out of this,” Weiner said. “And if that is the pledge, I gladly on behalf of my colleagues…ask that the amendment be withdrawn.”
In a news release following the Energy Committee’s passage of the bill, Weiner said, “Single-payer is a better plan and now it is on center stage. Americans have a clear choice. Their member of Congress will have a simpler, less expensive and smarter bill to choose. I am thrilled that the Speaker is giving us that choice.”
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the floor vote Pelosi promised Weiner, which is not expected to pass, is “an especially big deal for advocates of a single health care system — who see it as cheaper and simpler than the complicated measure being drawn up — because they have been complaining that they have not even been able to get an airing of their position.”
Weiner, Co-Chair of the Middle Class Caucus and a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, has led the effort for a single-payer solution along with Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., Rep. Elliot Engel, D-NY, Rep. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Illinois, and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.
Even President Barack Obama’s former personal physician came out in support of the single-payer solution.
David Scheiner, who treated Obama for more than 20 years, said under the single-payer plan people will [eventually] pay less.”
Scheiner made his comments during a news conference last Thursday at the National Press Club where a rally organized by Healthcare NOW, a coalition of more than a dozen healthcare advocacy groups, got together to pressure Congress to pass legislation in support of the single-payer system.
Obama has said he does not believe a single-payer system, while successful in other countries, would work in the United States because of the volume of people who receive health insurance from their employers. Obama, however, does support a government-operated public-option plan, which would compete with private insurers.
"[DNC Chair Tom Perez] has gotten instructions from Bill Clinton not to let the party go to the Bernie Sanders folks." - Jonathan Allen, co-author of Shattered, revealing new material in the upcoming paperback release pic.twitter.com/dLEnwl7kIc— HootHootBerns 🌹🐦 (@HootHootBerns) May 3, 2018