Last night, Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) introduced a four-page bill on the floor of the House, HR 4789, that would simply extend Medicare coverage to all Americans who wish to have it. Firedoglake's David Dayen isn't very enthusiastic about it, not because it's a bad idea (it's the closet thing we've come to hearing about anything remotely resembling affordable single payer coverage) but because of the resistance that will surely be put up by the well-heeled heels of Congress. In fact, Dayen calls Grayson's HR 4789 "quixotic," a term that makes one think of Congressman Dennis Kucinich's heroic but ultimately doomed HR 333 that sought to impeach Dick Cheney for war crimes.
But he does link to a particularly passionate and eloquent post by the venerable Howie Klein at Down With Tyranny. In it, Klein writes,
This evening Alan Grayson, Orlando's spectacular and effective fighter for ordinary working families in a Congress that overwhelmingly caters to wealthy and powerful special interests, introduced the most real and straight forward healthcare reform bill that's come up so far. Unless Obama makes the House leadership kill H.R. 4789-- a distinct possibility-- this should pass the House more easily than anything that's been proposed for healthcare reform so far. And I bet it could even win cloture in the Senate! His bill offers the opportunity for everyone in the country to buy into Medicare.
Like Dayen, I don't see this bill even getting as far as the Senate floor let along achieving cloture with 60 or more votes.
Let's remember one thing: If Congress, including the House, was ever serious about introducing affordable single payer, universal coverage without a draconian mandate, then the lower chamber would've done so already. What Congressman Grayson is attempting is extremely laudable but far from innovative. Economists, health care experts and the American people have been screaming for universal single payer for years now (although we're not hearing so much about it anymore when Americans realized it was never on the table let alone a pipe dream).
However, like FDL's David Dayen, I do not believe Grayson's admirably trim and commonsensically brilliant HR 4789 will go away any more than Grayson will. Grayson's the real deal and that's something I can't say about too many other people on Capitol Hill. At the very least, HR 4789 will serve as a Greek chorus, a voice of conscience ringing with the timber of truth and justice, to the rest of a Congressional body that's obviously more enamored of vouchsafing special interests of the wealthy than that of their rank-and-file constituents.
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