Back when he presided over the Senate’s health care reform debate, Max Baucus, chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, had said everything was on the table — except for single-payer universal health care. When doctors, nurses, and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, the Montana Democrat had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”
And yet, Backus himself instituted a single payer health insurance system for an entire county in his state of Montana. Why? To cover the ass of a mining company that has managed to evade responsibility for hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses caused by deadly airborne asbestos around a vermiculite mine near the town of Libby in Northwest Montana.
What’s really striking about this is that it was so simple. Backus merely extended Medicare to everyone affected by the asbestos, regardless of age, regardless of ability to pay (like Medicare it is free). And there is no gradual ten year rollout like with the current health care reform bill.
Backus, why can’t the rest of us have Medicare for all? Why did you keep it off the table?