Thursday, May 22, 2014

The MA Dems Platform Endorses Single Payer, but Only One MA-GOV Candidate Wants to Make It Happen

Saturday in the mail, I received the call to convention for the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention next month, where I will be a delegate.

In it, along with the itinerary, was the 2013 party platform. The Mass Dems platform is solidly progressive and covers a number of issues.

When reading the health care section, I was pleased to see that the platform included an endorsement of a single payer system.
Massachusetts Democrats believe that every person should enjoy good quality of life and good health and wellbeing. We believe that high-quality and affordable health care should be available to all through a single payer government sponsored program like Medicare, regardless of employment status.
We often see a discrepancy between party platforms and party policymaking, even in states like Massachusetts where Democrats are unobstructed by Republicans. 
This dynamic came to mind when reading that passage because while the platform endorses single payer, there is only one gubernatorial candidate who wants to make it happen.

When asked about single payer, Attorney General Martha Coakley normally hedges, noting that she does not support single payer "at this time."

State Treasurer Steve Grossman says that he will "consider it" and "put it on the table" but has yet to display any clear commitment or concrete interest in it.

Former Homeland Security adviser Juliette Kayyem will often say that she supports single payer in theory but will do nothing for it.

Former COO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts Joe Avellone is openly opposed to single payer.

That leaves us with only one gubernatorial candidate with a firm commitment to this plank of the state party platform: former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Don Berwick. He discussed why Massachusetts must take this next step in health care reform in recent interviews in Vox and Wonkblog. Last month, he hosted a town hall event discussing his Medicare for All proposal, and he regularly emphasizes how such a system can accomplish the threefold goal of better health, better care, and better cost. As a trained pediatrician, former CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement a former head of CMS, he knows a lot about health care, and he knows that we need to move to a single payer system.

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