MN State Senator John Marty

MN State Senator John Marty

After watching any discussion of single payer health care pushed out of the debate and chalked up as “politically unrealistic” by the DC political establishment, many believe that leadership on that front is going to have to come from the states.  Giving states the power to create single payer systems is the focus of Dennis Kucinich’s amendment, which takes as its model the way Canada evolved toward a single-payer system.

State Senator John Marty is currently running for governor of Minnesota in 2010, and he is the author of the Minnesota Health Plan, a single-payer system he’s been fighting for:

In the last three years, Marty has pushed a bill that would set up the Minnesota Health Plan, essentially a single-payer plan that would shift the premiums we and/or our employers now pay for health insurance to a public entity that would cover necessary health services from cradle to grave.

Hasn’t he heard that a single-payer plan isn’t politically realistic, as they’re saying in Washington? Does he ever feel lonely being in the minority? “Yeah,” the seven-term senator chuckles during our Q&A. “I’ve felt in the minority about a lot of things.”

As Senator Marty has written over at The Seminal, he now has 70 co-authors on the bill –  over a third of the legislature.  He wrote about it in an op-ed entitled The Courage of Our Convictions:

It’s time for progressives to have the courage of our convictions. If we claim to believe in universal health care, we need to fight for it. The MN Health Plan — which covers everyone for all their medical needs, and costs less than we are spending now — is on the table. Those who are not willing to take on the powerful insurance lobby, ought to be honest and admit that reelection and other priorities matter more.

Refusing to fight for it because it is “not politically realistic” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Likewise, dismissing it as something that will take decades to pass means leaving the problem to the next generation.

I think this is an important point, and it has led to the demoralization within the Democratic party that we are seeing in every poll right now.   We’re being fed a lot of excuses about how “naive” anyone was to expect meaningful health care reform, but that’s exactly what the President campaigned on.  To turn around now and have “anonymous senior administration officials” whispering to reporters that everyone who believed in that was a sucker and an extremist is cynical beyond words.  If the White House thinks that’s the reality of the situation, they need to own up to it.  They’re not going to take on the lobbyists.  Okay, now we know.

That isn’t, however, a message that is going to inspire even a small fraction of the country.  And as we look to the future, kindling health care reform is very likely going to start at the state level.  So we invited Senator Marty here today to discuss his plan, his campaign, and the national impact it would have if a single-payer governor took the lead and provided an example in a state-based single-payer system.

Please welcome Senator John Marty in the comments.  You can donate to his campaign through ActBlue.

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