Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Better Than Nothing?


One of my professors years ago was a round little man who liked to warn us, with a twinkle in his eye, “Making predictions is very difficult, especially predictions about the future.” Will a bill pass, in what form, and then what will the long term implications be? It’s hard to predict.

Dr. John Geyman, former president of Physicians for a National Health Plan, makes a case in Tikkun “The Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962): Enough Reform to Succeed?” He argues that whatever bill this Congress is able to pass will likely set the cause of Single Payer health care back because it “would leave in place an inefficient, exploitive insurance industry that is dying by its own hand, even as [the bill] props [the industry] up with enormous future profits through subsidized mandates.” His argument backs up Dr. Marcia Angell on the Huffington Post who asked “Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing?”.

Not everyone on the Left agrees. Look at Sam Stein’s piece in the Huffington Post , “Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform At All Is Best.” Goldman Sach’s analysis for the health insurance industry is that no reform would benefit them the most, and if we end up with a version close to the House bill, that would cause the industry the most financial difficulty. The Senate bill would fall in between from their perspective. Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic asks “The House Bill Is ‘Worse Than Nothing’? Really?” to further argue from a progressive perspective that we still could get reform worth supporting.

Sorting all this out is tough and can be frustrating because there is so much wishful, non-reality-based thinking going on. It is clear that many of the supporters and opponents of the bills, both in Congress and the general public, are clearly deluded, and Single Payer is what has them flummoxed.

On the Left I keep talking to supporters of the public option who claim to be “Single Payer at heart”, and they believe whatever passes will be the camel’s nose under the tent, the slippery slope to Single Payer. Seems delusional. If only they are right….

Speaking of the Right, many of them also believe any bill this Democratic Congress will pass will become the same camel’s nose, the same slippery slope to socialism. Could they be right, too?

There is still work to do. The handwriting was on the wall Saturday 10/31 when anti-abortion Democrats had enough political oomph to get their Stupid Amendment debated and passed while the Progressive Caucus couldn’t muster enough support to bring either the Kucinich or Weiner Amendments to the floor (for more discussion of these amendments in particular, and Single Payer in general, see the HCHP website and blog).

No matter what happens, one prediction is certain: we have to continue to build our movement. Next time around we have to get everyone in Congress who plans to vote for reform this time, to vote for real single payer reform, to push for Medicare Part E – E is for Everyone. And that would prove the delusional ones were right after all.

ROB STONE, MD is an emergency physician and Director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan in Indiana. He is on the board of directors of Physicians for a National Health Plan.


More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians