Belabored Podcast #135: How Single-Payer Went from Margin to Mainstream, with Michael Lighty

Belabored Podcast #135: How Single-Payer Went from Margin to Mainstream, with Michael Lighty

Medicare for All has moved from radical to mainstream in a span of just months. Michael Lighty of National Nurses United joins us to talk about the role of healthcare workers in the fight for single-payer.

Nurses march from the White House to the US Chamber of Commerce calling for a Tax on Wall Street and Medicare for All, June, 2011 (NNU / Flickr)

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What a difference an election makes. What used to be unthinkable in the healthcare debate, fully universal free healthcare for all, has moved from radical to “mainstream” in a few short months. Now that Trumpcare is threatening to explode even the moderate reforms of the ACA, single-payer healthcare is now not only looking promising but possible on the national political horizon. Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced his long awaited Medicare for All single-payer bill, concretizing the vision he presented on the campaign trail for free, accessible healthcare for all. To figure out why such a common-sensical proposal took so long to be validated in Washington we talked to Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy for National Nurses United, one of the few unions who have steadfastly championed single-payer since before it was cool. Lighty, who is also helping to lead the new Sanders Institute, a policy think tank founded and directed by Jane Sanders with Dave Driscoll, explains the role of healthcare workers in the debate and how they continue to play the long game on universal healthcare.

In other news we examine struggles for gender injustice in Silicon Valley, pushing childcare for all, striking at Spectrum Cable, and sanctuary unions for immigrants. With recommended reading on a resurgence of labor on college campuses and the reincarnation of failing charter schools.

If you think our work is worth supporting as we soldier on through Trumplandia, please consider becoming a sustaining member of Belabored or donating or subscribing to Dissent. Help keep us going for the next 135 episodes!


Sarah: Creating a sanctuary union, with George Miranda

Michelle: How to Fix America’s Childcare Crisis (The Nation)

Michelle: Childcare Workers Make 40% Less Than the Nationwide Median Wage (The Nation)

A Cable Workers Strike Grows Increasingly Bitter (The Bridge)

Spectrum Workers’ Strike Approaches 5-Month Mark (New York Times)

Google sued over ‘sex discrimination’ (BBC)

Women Shouldn’t Have to Sue Google to Get Equal Pay (New Republic)


Michael Lighty, Director Public Policy, National Nurses United

NNU Medicare for All campaign

Sanders Institute

Michelle: Amid GOP Attacks on Health Care, the Movement for Single Payer Is Growing (Truthout)

How Bernie Sanders got Democrats to stop worrying and embrace single-payer (Vox)

Single-payer won’t pass now. But its popularity proves our morals are changing. (Washington Post)

Cuomo backs federal single-payer health care system — and even says he’d approve it on a state level (New York Daily News)

Argh, I Wish Id Written That!

Sarah: Annie Waldman, Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan (ProPublica)

Michelle: Thomas Frank, Are elite universities ‘safe spaces’? Not if you’re starting a union (Guardian)