In a sign of just how much the boundaries of mainstream Washington thought on healthcare have changed, House Democrats will hold hearings this Congress on Medicare for All, the Washington Post reported today.
According to the Post, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given her approval to hearings in the Rules and Budget committees. Of course, with a Republican Senate and president, the chances of any bill actually passing are pretty low unless Democrats attempt some zany scheme in which they name the bill the Donald Trump Large Brain Good Boy Act of 2019.
But actually being able to hold hearings on the issue, which means calling expert testimony and laying out the evidence and the case for the bill in public and on the record, is a step forward. If Democrats can hold hearings that showcase the pure insanity and evil of the current American healthcare system, where people die without their expensive drugs and where hospitals just make up the prices they charge for procedures, that’s good.
Yesterday, as a short-lived fight flared over the House’s “PAYGO” rule, which requires any legislation that would add to the deficit to be offset by spending cuts (or tax increases), Rules Committee chairman Rep. Jim McGovern indicated that he wouldn’t let PAYGO interfere with Medicare for All:
House Democrats would not be holding hearings or offering to waive PAYGO rules without outside pressure from Medicare for All proponents and the constituencies of popular leftists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.
Think about where we were three years ago, when Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, said that a single-payer healthcare system would “never, ever come to pass,” and prominent campaign surrogates like her daughter Chelsea claimed that Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would actually take away insurance for middle- and low-income Americans. But by the end of the last Congress, the Medicare for All bill had 125 sponsors in the House—more than half of the Democratic caucus.
More of this centrist bullshit will come as the fight gets more real. More of the bad Democrats will sign up for bad Medicare for All alternatives, and more of them will show up working with the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future, the lobbying group funded by all the worst and biggest players in America’s for-profit healthcare system. The fight will be ugly and awful. But let’s take the good news when we can get it.