By Michael Sainato
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is insisting on pushing a flawed bill to repeal Obamacare in a desperate attempt to stop single-payer healthcare’s popularity. “They’re going to single-payer health care. There is no bipartisan solution to health care that fundamentally changes Obamacare, because there are stakeholders for single-payer health care,” said Graham in a recent interview on ABC News’ This Week. He added, “I’ve come to conclude that ObamaCare is a placeholder for BernieCare in the Democratic world.”
His bill signals a last gasp against the inevitability of a single-payer healthcare system. Single payer is increasingly cited as a solution to millions of Americans across the country not being able to afford healthcare, that are getting sicker or dying as a result, or being faced with insurmountable medical debt if they do receive treatment. A recent survey conducted by Harvard-Harris found 52 percent of Americans support a single-payer healthcare system, and other similar polls have echoed the same findings. The momentum and energy is in favor of single-payer healthcare, with Graham trying to stop it no matter the consequences.
The Associated Press reported Graham is pushing Republicans to support his bill despite, “all its imperfections.” Earlier this year, Graham expressed concerns over the Republicans haphazardly throwing together a healthcare bill just for the sake of doing so. He tweeted in May 2017, “I appreciate the apparent progress on health care reform in the House of Representatives. I will admit, I’m concerned with the process.” Graham added, “A bill — finalized yesterday, has not been scored, amendments not allowed, and 3 hours final debate — should be viewed with caution.”
Despite those concerns, Graham is frantically pushing his own bill that has not been scored in any form. Republicans are expected to support a bill they know little about that has no opportunity for amendments or changes once it passes the senate, unlike its predecessor bill earlier this year. Graham and the concerns of several other Republicans are repealing Obamacare just for the sake of doing so, no matter the results as they face little to no electoral backlash from doing so.
Graham’s bill to stop the trend toward single-payer healthcare on the left is symptomatic of his own record of being on the wrong side of history over major policy issue debates. His predecessor in the Senate, Strom Thurmond, served from 1954 to 2003, and was notorious for his pro-segregation efforts and filibustering of the civil rights act. For Graham, it took him years and a Supreme Court decision to finally support same-sex marriage, though he previously compared it to polygamy in 2012 and again in 2015. He also opposed efforts to protect LGBT workers from discrimination in the workplace, and opposed adoption rights from same-sex marriage couples. During his short-lived presidential campaign in 2015, Graham told a private men’s club in audio leaked to CNN, ““If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.” His presidential ambitions weren’t taken seriously even in a pool of candidates that Trump beat; his career since then has been defined in criticizing Trump, but even for his newhealthcare repeal bill, he must rely on Trump’s support to help push it through and whip enough Republican votes in favor of it. In doing so, Graham is ignoring his colleague and friend, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who won’t support the bill that will kick millions of people off healthcare just so Republicans can tout a victory against Democrats. McCain has called for a bi-partisan solution to try to fix the Affordable Care Act, while hardliners like Graham insist on a bill that tries to counter and derail efforts toward a single-payer healthcare system.