Michael Corcoran | Truthout | January 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, January 17, 2016. (Travis Dove / The New York Times)
Single-payer health-care activists are used to being disappointed by Democrats, especially those with presidential ambitions. In 2003, Barack Obama said he was a “proponent of a single-payer, universal health-care plan,” but as president he refused to even engage in a discussion on the issue when he was working to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009-10.
But at least Obama took the same approach as most establishment Democrats and merely ignored an idea that would save the country billions, while covering every single American, regardless of employment or ability to pay. Hillary Clinton, however, hasn’t ignored the policy in recent months on the campaign trail. Instead, despite broad popular support for Medicare for All, Clinton has declared war on single-payer health care.
Bernie Sanders, who just released his Medicare for All plan on January 17, has made single-payer a “central axis point in the campaign,” as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes described it, and helped to push the subject into the national debate. So, when new polls revealed Sanders to be in a dead heat with Clinton in early primary states, Clinton took the offensive. She began a campaign to attack single-payer, painting it as something that would burden middle-class families, empower right-wing governors and put Americans’ health insurance at risk by dismantling every major health-care institution in the country.