When you look at social media, you might think #Single Payer is the right solution. People from all political backgrounds like it. For instance, the poll from Pews Research Center reported that 60 percent of voters believe that the government is responsible for healthcare in contrast to the 39 percent who believes that the government should stay out of it. If you don’t believe in polls, then there is documentation. Congressional reporter, Elena Schor, tweeted that almost everyone in Senator’s McCaskill townhall raised their hands when asked if they support #Medicaid For All. That was in Macon County, where Trump won handily. Plus, the youth like it.

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One Twitter user jokingly called single payer a kink. But, it’s not just some trend to make you look cool. Single Payer would truly save lives because the current health care system is making it harder for people to afford treatment. But, if it’s so popular, then why is it taking so long?

Lobbyists and the health insurance industry

The #health insurance companies are powerful lobbyists in Washington, DC. According to open secret, there are about 267 former aides and 18 lawmakers are working as lobbyists on behalf of the health insurance companies. About 113 out of the 285 lobbyists lobbied on behalf of the American Healthcare Act, aka the Obamacare repeal bill. Indeed, health insurance companies have politicians and their aides locked into their command.

Many politicians tried to justify why we need health insurance companies, but their justifications are flimsy at best.

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Take Dick Gephardt, for example. Gephardt is a former Democratic minority leader and is now serving as a Democratic superdelegate. He is also working as a board member for Centene, a health insurance company. He proclaimed that single payer would not occur in his lifetime. He also boasts that without health insurance companies, there wouldn’t be “innovation.” Lee Fang from the Intercept debunked this claim by saying that innovation came from government funds through the National Institutes of Health and universities receiving federal grants.

Lee Fang is right. The Linx surgery is an example. The Linx surgery is designed to solve a condition called acid reflux where stomach acid goes to the esophagus. The surgery consists of implanting a metal ring onto the lower end of the esophagus to prevent acid going through. For many patients, it is a game changer. But, while the Linx surgery is approved by the FDA, it isn’t approved by insurance companies. The reason because the Linx surgery is simply “too new.” Nevertheless, many patients have to appeal their insurance companies.

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Sometimes, the number of appeals can skyrocket.

The dangers of political theater

Despite some skepticism, support for single payer is popular enough that some politicians are joining in. Lee Fang reported that the single payer bill, introduced in every Congressional session since 2003, received 113 sponsors. That is mere twice the sponsors from last year. Furthermore, the sponsors included prominent politicians like Elizabeth Warren. It is a good sign, but we must be careful.

Sometimes, politicians employ “political theater.” Political theater is when theatrics are employed in political issues, actions, or protests. It gives a good show, but it doesn’t mean anything politically. The Comey Testimony is one example of political theater with so many people gathering in bars to watch it unfold. Will it take down Trump? Not really. But, does it provide a good show? Yes.

When it’s applied to issues, political theater can be detrimental. An example that is focused on health care is the single payer bill in California. When the bill passed through the state senate, there was massive hype. It was a hopeful counterpart to the American Healthcare Act. But, the hyped died down when Assembly Speaker, Mark Rendon, put the bill down. He claimed that the bill was “incomplete,” but there is a chance that it would be revived later. But, in all actuality, he shot the bill to protect the health insurance industry. David Sirota of the International Business Times reported that Rendon received $50,000 dollars from health insurers. The Democratic Party in California received more than $2.2 million dollars from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies. If the California Democratic Party actually did single payer, then they would have their profits cut down from the health insurance industry. So, the single payer bill was really just for show.

Even more obstacles ahead

Even if politicians are genuine enough to support single payer, they have to go through many obstacles. Lee Fang described three obstacles for single payer: propaganda efforts, budget constraints, and the unlikelihood of federal waivers. Last year, Colorado had a ballot measure for single payers. 79 percent of voters refused it. The ballot measure was opposed by businesses, health insurers, the Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Congressional members from both parties. As a result, the public followed their words in refusing single payer. But, additionally, it was also because the whopping $36 billion also dwarfed the government budget itself. Federal waivers for Medicaid are normally state specific, but it can be federal if the government wanted to. Considering the government is held by the Trump administration, federal waivers seem like a pipe dream.

Overall, single payer is trending for the right reasons, but we have to consider the obstacles. The health care industry has lobbyists that they can control to their whim. Lobbyists can say something that can appeal to health insurance companies and receive profits for it. But, while doing so, they are only making patients worse by making health insurance companies so powerful that they would deny innovative treatments. In spite of them, the public favors single payer, but they must be careful. Single payer might be exploited for “political theater” in which single payer is dangled in the eyes of the public before it gets quickly snatched away by insurance companies. Even if single payer isn’t exploited, many bureaucratic obstacles lie ahead. But, don't let the obstacles deter you. If anything, use the obstacles to make a realistic plan for single payer.