By Ryan Grim
The Intercept, February 27, 2019
The Medicare for All legislation unveiled Wednesday by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, was written with the help of a broad swath of lobbyists and special interest groups, if perhaps not the kind associated with typical health policy legislation on Capitol Hill.
The key outside groups involved in the drafting included nurses, doctors, disability rights activists, and advocates for the elderly, as well as public interest organizations such as Public Citizen and the Center for Popular Democracy.
Along with Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the main groups involved in drafting the legislation were National Nurses United, a major nurses union that has long been on the forefront of the fight for single payer; Physicians for a National Health Program; the Center for Popular Democracy, which organizes poor and marginalized communities; Public Citizen; and Social Security Works, which represents more than a million progressive seniors who support expanding the Medicare coverage they have to the rest of the population.
Meanwhile, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries played little to no role in the drafting process — an anomaly on Capitol Hill. Their marginalization in the process represents a major departure from the approach taken with the Affordable Care Act and reflects the type of bill being drafted: one less concerned about the profits, or even survival, of interest groups like insurers and more concerned with delivering care to the largest amount of people in the most cost-effective way.
Noticeably absent from the central drafting room was the Center for American Progress, the leading center-left think tank, which reflects a reticence by many in the progressive policy community to embrace something as sweeping as Medicare for All. The Center for American Progress, instead, has pushed what it calls “Medicare Extra for All,“ an expanded version of a public option that people could buy into.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Special interests yes, when that interest is for the all of the people and their health, but we need to keep out the “usual suspects.”
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