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Some Republican support for single payer at the state level

On PA, I got it (almost) wrong; SB 400 is the single payer bills, supported by one former Republican legislator). SB 267 is the economic impact study bill that supported single payer, which garnered 14 of 30 Republicans. One is not zero, but still!

So I went looking for more rational Republican action at the state level, and whaddaya know: I found it. Baby steps!

Oregon seems to be using the same "study" tactic as PA, with some success in the House:

Rep. Michael Dembrow attracted the support of five Republicans to solicit private donations to fund a rigorous academic study on how best to bring true universal healthcare to Oregon.
Five Republicans supported HB 3260 when it reached the House, including Rep. Jim Thompson of Dallas, the vice-chairman of the Health Committee. Earlier, the measure received a unanimous vote in that committee, but Thompson was the only Republican on the panel who stuck with the bill.

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized we’re conducting a study with the outcome already determined,” Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, told The Lund Report. “It’s an investigation into a single-payer system.”

The study called for in HB 3260 will look at four systems – single-payer; a full roll out of the Affordable Care Act with the Cover Oregon exchange, a Basic Health Plan option for low-income families ineligible for Medicaid; with a public option sold on the exchange; and a system offering families a private insurance plan with just the essential health benefits.

“Only if he thinks that’s the best and most effective system,” Dembrow told The Lund Report after he heard Kennemer’s rationale for switching his vote after he had supported it in the Health Committee.

Note that one faction of the Republicans claims the outcome is wired for single payer; but another faction went ahead and voted for it anyhow. Interesting!

Vermont's move toward single payer:

In 1998, Dr. Deb Richter began, almost single handedly, to revive the dream of universal health care in the United States—open to all and paid for by the government. A primary care physician from Buffalo, New York, Richter had become outraged by the barriers to accessing quality health care in the city’s low-income communities.

Despairing of ever advancing universal care in the state of New York, Dr. Richter moved to Vermont where she thought that politics were on a scale where she could have an impact. Practicing medicine three days a week, Dr. Richter used the rest of her time to travel the state speaking about a so-called single payer system that would dispose of the multitude of private insurance companies and offer patients a simple point-of-access health care. Recognizing that businesses and doctors were key constituencies, she spoke to every Rotary Club and every business association that would have her, as well as to any doctor who would listen. She also started a new organization devoted solely to educating the public about the single payer system. She helped organize a rally that drew 1,000 people to the state capital. Eventually, Dr. Richter found her way inside the statehouse, where she formed alliances with legislators from all three parties—Democrat, Republican, and Progressive.

And here, amazingly, is a Louisiana Attorney General:

According to one Republican attorney general in the lawsuit against the health care individual mandate, the problem with Obamacare is that it’s not a government takeover of health care.

ThinkProgress spoke with Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Caldwell opposes Obamacare and the individual mandate, but for a different reason than most of his fellow litigants: it props up the private health insurance industry. “Insurance companies are the absolute worst people to handle this kind of business,” he declared. “I trust the government more than insurance companies.” Caldwell went on to endorse the idea of a single-payer health care system, saying it’d “be a whole lot better” than Obamacare:

FInally, here's an eloquent statement from a Republican doctor:

I am a Republican. For those who know me that is not a surprise. I live in a red state. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. I can field strip, clean and reassemble a Remington 12-gauge pump blindfolded. And on top of it, I think we should talk about having a single payer national health care plan. The reason is quite simple. In my view, we already have one; we just don’t take advantage of it.

Medicare.

How, you might say, could a Republican come to such a position? The simple answer is I really think it is quite Republican. Oh, I know there will be many raised eyebrows and many critics. I accept that. I understand the fact that no single payer system is perfect, that it is “socialist,” that it is “un-American.”

I would submit to you, however, that it is un-American to allow many of our citizens to be uninsured, that it is un-American to shunt money away from a strong military in order to support a bloated, inefficient and fraud-laden health care system, that it is un-American not to be open and above board with the cost of what we do, the expense of that service and the profit that we make. Mostly, it is un-American to let this outrageous health care injustice continue.

And here is a second Republican voice:

My party, [is] the Republican Party ...

Obamacare does not deal with a key root problem – the private health-insurance model itself. ...

Richard Nixon once called Medicare “socialism,” but now it is supported by almost all Americans. Further, Medicare administrative costs are 3 percent while private insurance is more than 20 percent.

What should be proposed by the GOP to contain costs and improve access? My advice to my fellow Republicans is to employ your reason vs. your ideology.

Government health insurance is the solution, not the problem. The GOP should promote a single-payer system – Medicare for all.

People who care about saving many thousands of lives (and money) based on policy instead of party would do well to look for support for single payer wherever they can find it. My knowledge of state politics is not great, and obviously, the numbers here are small, but Republicans who help advance the cause of single payer need to be supported, and not demonized.

NOTE Incidentally, Kucicich's provision to allow single payer waivers in the states was backed by 13 House Republicans.

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