Single Payer Supreme

If the Supreme Court strikes down Obama’s individual mandate on Thursday, single payer will be front and center when the new health care debate starts on Friday. Here’s one indication. A search of the Lexis news data base for the three months between January 1, 2012 until the Supreme Court heard oral arguments at the end of March shows that there were 595 articles that mentioned the phrase “single payer.”

A search of the three months since the oral arguments until today turned up 826 articles that mentioned the phrase “single payer” – a 38 percent increase.

Even healthcare journalists in the corporate media are starting to take notice.

Take the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. Klein thinks that if Obama’s law – which he supports – is overturned, the likeliest possible option going forward is “single payer through a messy process of attrition.”

In March, single payer activists were in front of the Supreme Court, where they filed an amicus brief asking the Court to strike down Obama’s mandate and arguing that there was a Constitutional way out – single payer – Medicare for all.

Single payer activists were out in front of the Supreme Court again this past Monday – and will be there again on Thursday – wearing medical masks with the words “silenced majority.”

But these are not your Democratic Party single payer activists. They reject Obama for reneging – as a young politician – on his promise to support single payer. They reject the Democrats as party to the insurance industry. And they equate Obamacare with Romneycare.

Or as one of their banners in front of the steps of the Supreme Court put it on Monday – No Obama/Romney Health Care. Yes Medicare for All Now.

“We reject Obamacare and we reject Obama,” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “We reject Romneycare and we reject Romney. We reject the corporate Republicans. We reject the corporate Democrats. Where does that leave us? With the American people and for single payer.”

“The easiest thing to do right now if we want universal, affordable, guaranteed health care is to drop two words from the Medicare law – ‘over 65,’” said Dr. Margaret Flowers. “Expand Medicare to every person in this country. That is a system we can work with. The Affordable Care Act is not a system we can work with.”

Oliver Hall, the attorney who filed the amicus brief on behalf of Single Payer Action, It’s Our Economy and 50 medical doctors said “there are already single payer systems operational here in the United States – and they work.”

“And those are Medicare and the Veterans Administration,” Hall said. “Single payer is possible. It’s already happening in the United States. And that rebuts the primary tenet of the government’s contention in this case – which is that it cannot successfully regulate the health care market unless it has the power to require every American to buy private insurance. That is simply not the case. And Medicare and the Veterans Administration prove it.”

Dr. Carol Paris of Leonardstown Maryland said she was “tired of trying to provide ethical care to my patients.”

“I spend more time helping them figure out how to deal with the bureaucracy of their insurance company and their pharmaceutical benefits manager than I do actually providing them with medical care,” Dr. Paris said. “I’m a psychiatrist. And people first have to decide whether they can afford therapy. And then if we have to dumb it down and just go with medication, then we have to figure out whether they can afford medicine. I spend more and more and more of every day not providing actual therapy to my patients, but instead just helping them maneuver the insurance industry.”

Dr. George Pauk of Phoenix, Arizona said that single payer is supported by the majority of the American people, doctors and nurses.

“Medical ethics or nursing ethics demand that we care for every person who comes to us,” said Dr. Pauk.

Attorney Kevin Zeese said “we need to get the insurance industry out.”

“When the mandate is ruled unconstitutional as we expect it will be, we urge the Congress to drop two words – ‘over 65′ – from the Medicare law,” Zeese said. “That simple action will cover every American with health insurance – a national health plan paid for by public dollars – not a subsidy to the insurance industry. Once we get that rule in place we can improve it, provide greater coverage, provide no co-pays, no deductibles and have a real humane health care system. The reality is – health care is a human right. It is not something that can be bargained away by corporate welfare, by crony capitalism.”

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