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Single-Payer Debate Coming To A Race Near You

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, to unveil Medicare for All legislation to reform health care.

Sixth District congressional candidate Reggie Thomas says the biggest issue facing the region is healthcare, and he favors a single-payer solution. That question – which delivery system would truly deliver universal health coverage – could become a key debate in the Democratic race to select a challenger to face three-term Republican Rep. Andy Barr.

Thomas’ on-the-record support for single-payer mirrors a national shift in the Democratic ranks, with a third of the U.S. Senate Democratic caucus recently signing onto Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill this week. Previously, Sanders' measure failed to attract a single vote among his colleagues.

In an interview with Spectrum News, Thomas called healthcare a moral right and recommended a single-payer system for Kentucky.

"A single-payer system would remove millions of dollars away from our cost of maintaining pensions, and that would be additional money that we could use for other resources here in the state: education, K-12, or public protection issues, or Medicaid," the state senator explained.

But in another microcosm of the national debate, evidence of the split among Democrats is already present early in the Sixth District race. When pressed on single-payer and an accompanying tax increase on CNN, fellow Democratic hopeful Amy McGrath avoided taking an ironclad position and instead urged lawmakers to come together to craft a bipartisan fix for the Affordable Care Act.

"I do not think Obamacare is failing. I think it can be fixed and let's try to fix it. Let's try to do it in the right way," the retired fighter pilot told the anchors, adding that she also believes healthcare is a right.

For now the proposal is a nonstarter, with Republicans in charge both in Frankfort and on Capitol Hill, but some Democrats see signs of momentum gathering leading into the 2018 midterm and 2020 general elections.  

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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