Trumpcare's Failure Sets the Stage for Single-Payer

Trumpcare's Failure Sets the Stage for Single-Payer
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Trumpcare is dead. President Donald Trump is humiliated and so is House Speaker Paul Ryan. The Democrats can hardly believe their luck: The Republicans have hobbled their own agenda, while Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, lives to fight another day. But unlike the law's previous brushes with death—most notably its bruising encounters with the Supreme Court in 2012 and 2015—this latest example of its resilience represents a turning point, if Democrats choose to seize the opportunity. For three reasons—political, structural, and moral—now is the time for the Democratic Party to begin building a proposal for a single-payer health care system.

Politically, the momentum clearly points left. Long derided by conservatives and centrists as socialist fantasy, single-payer health care (sometimes called Medicare for All) is having a moment. In January, 60 percent of Americans told Pew Research Center they believe the government has a “responsibility” to ensure health care access. That figure tracks with a 2015 Kaiser Health poll, which revealed that 58 percent of voters supported some version of Medicare for All. Democratic Socialists of America have experienced significant membership growth since Trump's election, and its activists are canvassing for single-payer in New York and California. California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom just added a version of the policy to his campaign platform. And Senator Bernie Sanders reigns as the country's most popular politician—and he ran in the Democratic primary on a platform that included Medicare for All.

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