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Trumpcare makes single-payer sound great again

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

But, of course, he does, along with other Republicans who, I remind, control all three branches of government. Perhaps Trump is learning it is not nearly as easy for a president to pass blame for failures on to the minions below as it is for private sector CEOs.

Meanwhile, the unexpected has happened. Now that Republicans don't have President Obama to kick around, the popularity of Obamacare has risen to new heights. An April Gallup poll, for example, found for the first time that more than half of the Americans surveyed (55 percent) approved of Obamacare.

A June Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found Obamacare to be more popular at 41 percent than the House repeal-and-replace alternative at 16 percent. Only 12 percent liked the Senate version in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.

Also rising: Support for a progressive alternative known as "single-payer," a system like Canada's in which government provides health coverage to all through a single government-run health insurance system.

A June poll by Pew Research Center found that a 60 percent majority of Americans now say it is the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. Also, 33 percent of the public now favors such a "single-payer" approach to health insurance, according to Pew. That's a 5 percentage point rise since January and 12 points since 2014.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) unsuccessful presidential bid appears to have had great success in reversing the widespread demonization of single-payer health plans. I'm sure the jaw-dropping cruelty of the Grand Old Party's alternatives has helped too.

That's probably not enough for us to expect single-payer to be enacted anytime soon, but there are more moderate alternatives, such as the "public option" that Congress removed during the original ACA debate. A public option would offer government-run insurance as an alternative to private-sector plans.

Conservatives deplore the idea, saying a government plan could afford to run the private plans out of the market. Yet, I would ask, even if that's true, why is competition a bad idea only when it offers more choices to low-wage earners?

Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. Here's a great opportunity for Americans to figure out what's possible and benefit from it -- before the zombies take over.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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