In anticipation of a “blue wave” election that brings more Democrats to Congress, the insurance and drug industries are gearing up to push back on the idea of a single-payer health care system.
The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports that health-care industry forces have teamed up to form the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, “which lobbyists say could run advertisements against single-payer plans and promote studies to undermine the idea.” The health care groups in the partnership, formed in June, include America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the American Medical Association and the Federation of American Hospitals.
The idea of a single-payer or “Medicare for all” health-care system has gained momentum among Democrats, even as significant questions remain about how such a massive overhaul might be implemented and how to pay for it. “Industry groups are worried that support for single-payer is quickly becoming the default position among Democrats, and they want to push back and strengthen ties to more centrist members of the party to promote alternatives,” Sullivan writes.
The groups’ concern is more about the prospects of a Democratic single-payer platform in 2020, given that a host of the party’s potential presidential candidates have backed Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” bill. “Every one of those organizations that’s in that group will look at Bernie Sanders’s single-payer and see massive losses of money,” John McDonough, a former Democratic Senate staffer who worked on the Affordable Care Act and is now at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The Hill.
The industry’s budding campaign could pose a formidable political and public relations challenge to proponents of a single-payer system. “Leaving aside whether single payer is good policy or not,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt tweeted, “it seems like the idea is going to eventually need some powerful institutional allies from somewhere to advance.”