Sanders: Single Payer Never Had A Chance

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reminded the progressive media gathered on Capitol Hill today that single-payer health care reform was dead before it started in the Senate.

“It would have had 8 or 10 votes and that’s it,” he said, addressing a topic central in the minds of many who the bloggers and left wing talk show hosts gathered for the 4th annual Senate Democratic Progressive Media Summit in Washington reach everyday.

Sanders is among the few in the Senate not afraid to say he supports government-run, universal health care. But his calls for such a program have gone unanswered, much to the chagrin of progressives who still feel it is the best way to solve the nation’s health care crisis.

Sanders said it was still possible for single-payer to come to the U.S. eventually — but he said the road will not begin in Washington. If a state like California or Vermont ever instituted a single-payer system on its own, Sanders said, it would eventually lead to national adoption of universal coverage.

Sanders has put forward an amendment to the current health care bill in the Senate that would allow states to use federal funds to create their own single-payer plans, he said.

Single-payer aside, Sanders chalks up the difficulty Democrats have had passing health care to a mistaken belief about party unity when reform efforts kicked off.

“The major error Democrats undertook was to assume we had 60 votes or even 59,” he said. “We never had that.”

Sanders said he thinks Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate to pass a bill “certainly to include a public option.” It was a bit of good news for progressives, who have turned their attention to using reconciliation in the Senate to bolster a reform bill with the addition of a public option.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Dc
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: