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Hillary Bernie 12-7-1993


The Medicare-for-All plan introduced into the Senate by Bernie Sanders on Wednesday has already set off the predictable arguing between the factions of the Democratic Party that have been snarling at each other for two years about the 2016 primary and whether support for a national single-payer plan should be a litmus test for future Democratic candidates.

There is plenty of spirited debate to be had within the party about how best to achieve the long-held Democratic dream of universal health coverage for all Americans. Which is what makes this sentence, in an article about Sanders's plan at Vox, such an infuriating line of utterly hot garbage:

A shocking number of Senate Democrats have embraced the bill this week, with about a third signing on — an indicator to the bill's supporters that the party may be finally willing to stand for the right of the poor to have health care.

Um, has this writer ever heard of Medicaid, one of the great Democratic achievements of the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson? You know, that program designed to help the poor obtain health care coverage?

For that matter, has this writer heard about the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act, which was supposed to help even more lower-income earners and other qualified recipients obtain health insurance coverage, and would have done so if the Supreme Court had not essentially rewritten the statute to give states the right to opt out of it?

It has been one of the great frustrations of liberals whose memories extend back further than early 2009 to be accused of not wanting to help poor people get health care coverage. This has been a long-term goal of Democrats going back to the Truman administration.

Sanders knows this, even as he has spent two years convincing people otherwise. But he was there in the early 1990s when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was working on a comprehensive plan to achieve that goal. He campaigned with her on it, even. Look, that picture at the top of the post shows the two of them doing so and everything.

Yes, there have been setbacks and compromises, and there will be a lot of compromises in the future before anything resembling Sanders's plan gets signed into law, if it ever does.

But to sneer that Democrats “finally” are willing to stand up for poor people to get health care, the very same day they are mobilizing to defeat another attempt to repeal the ACA and helped pass a re-authorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program — a major component of Medicaid that Hillary Clinton helped push through in 1997 after her major health care reform fell short, and a program for which Donald Trump's budget slashes funding — is the height of disingenuous bullcrap.

It does no one any good to write this line unless it is to feed one's smug sense of superiority. Which is all well and good, just keep it away from the health care debate.

Watch Clinton give a speech on her health care push as first lady, with a bonus appearance from Sanders, in the video below.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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