As GOP Senate Repeal and Replace Bill Dies, Support for Single-Payer, Universal Healthcare System Grows

Posted July 19, 2017

MP3 Interview with Susan Rogers, retired Chicago internist and advisor to the group Physicians for a National Health Program, conducted by Scott Harris


Not long after it was unveiled on July 13, the second version of the proposed Senate Republican healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed. A total of four senators announced their opposition to the legislation, which could only afford to lose two votes among the Republican’s slim 52-seat Senate majority. All of the 46 Democrats and two independents had pledged to vote against the measure.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell then moved to a third attempt to make good on the GOP’s long-running campaign pledge to repeal President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. Following the lead of President Trump, McConnell said he was going to move to repeal Obamacare very soon, and leave debate over a replacement plan for a future date. But not long after his “Plan C” was announced, three Senate Republicans declared their opposition to that plan, killing the standalone repeal attempt.

In its second version, the Senate repeal and replace plan would have maintained the dramatic cuts to Medicaid, assuring that 15 million Americans would have lost their health insurance by 2026, with millions more losing coverage due to higher premiums without subsidies. An amendment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would have allowed insurers to offer cheaper policies with few benefits and discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Dr. Susan Rogers, an adviser to the group Physicians for a National Health Program, who assesses the now dead second version of the Senate GOP healthcare bill and reflects on how the current national debate has effected the campaign advocating the adoption of a single- payer, universal healthcare system that would cover all Americans.

DR. SUSAN ROGERS: This bill is, I mean, it's as close to health care reform as an elephant is to a mouse. There is no reform in that bill at all. All it does is it decimates Medicaid in order to subsidize tax benefits to the wealthy. One of the misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act is that that's been the cause for insurance premiums to rise, deductibles to rise, co-payments for care to rise. But all that started way before the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act did not cause that. It may have perpetuated it, it made it happen a little bit faster.

But this new bill does not any change to how health care is delivered. All it does is provides is it provides a way to cut benefits to provide less coverage to people so that people end up buying an insurance policy that essentially offers them no coverage. There's a lot of benefits that the Affordable Care Act did do, like allowing children to stay on their parents' policy until they were 26. It required some benefits that needed to be included such as maternity care, physical therapy, long-term care, a whole variety of things that they've now taken out so that insurance companies don't have to provide this. So what it does is it just says it's an insurance policy, but it's really not insuring people, because what they've done is to make if affordable, they've deleted the benefits. And then Medicaid, which is a big provider of health care, they've just decimated and the number of people who are now going to be uninsured is phenomenal.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Certainly, the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has focused a lot a national attention on the question of whether or not health care is a human right. And the Republicans certainly by and large have come down in opposition to the notion that people have a right to get healthcare when they're sick. How has this debate, your view, moved opinion, if at all, in the direction of people around the country now believing that health care is human right as it is in most of the other industrialized nations of the world who have a universal health care system of some kind in place?

DR. SUSAN ROGERS: Yes, well PNHP, Physicians for a National Health Program, clearly believe that health care is a right and like you say, more and more people are believing that, too. But a lot of the country does not, especially the Republicans who are sponsoring this bill. And one of the things that they promote is this argument that the market forces will finally stabilize health costs and will solve this whole healthcare problem and that competition in buying health insurance policies will – the competition itself will help lower cost. But it doesn't do that, because that does nothing to what the market allows things to cost. If we look at what we pay in this country, for example, for a chest x-ray. We pay maybe 10 times as much as other industrialized countries with a single-payer system. Same thing for everything. A cardiac bypass can cost three to four times as here in this country, and it's not any better here than it is elsewhere.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Dr. Rogers, how has all this controversy about Obamacare and now this Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, how has it contributed or not to strengthening support for a single-payer universal health care system of some kind here in this country?

DR. SUSAN ROGERS: Yes, I think over the years, the numbers of people who support single-payer has increased and if you look nationally, it is now the majority of physicians nationally support a single-payer system. And I think there's just a lot of confusion about single-payer is, which really kind of tempers the support that we should be able garner and now the numbers, like I said, the numbers of doctors and nonphysicians who are supporting single-payer has increased.

Find more information on the campaign for single-payer, universal healthcare by visiting Physicians for a National Health Program at; Health Care Now at; and Health Care Over Profit at

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