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Medicine for the People: Single-Payer and Beyond


The movement for a single-payer health care system in the United States represents a vision of basic access to health care for everyone. As popularly expressed, the demand for “Improved Medicare for All” rightly embraces the idea that health care should be every human being’s right, not a privilege dependent on a person’s income, wealth, or age.

Who could object to such a simple concept of justice, right? Actually, for decades the answer in the United States is just about everyone with money, influence, and power. The historic opponents of health care human rights include the insurance industry, Wall Street, the national leadership of both Republican and Democratic parties, and even the American Medical Association (AMA). All have long stood as obstacles to establishing health care as a human right. In the 1960s, right-wing ideologue Ronald Reagan and others of his persuasion even opposed the establishment of Medicare, likening it to the second coming of Bolshevism.