The Hill: GOP senator offering single-payer proposal to get Dems on record

GOP Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) is set to troll Democrats for a second time this year over whether or not they support a single-payer health-care system.

The GOP senator has filed an amendment to the fiscal year 2018 budget, which is currently being debated in the Senate, on creating a Medicare for all program favored by progressive lawmakers and outside groups.

The amendment supports “establishing a single payer health care system, which may include a Medicare-for-all national health care insurance program” as long as it doesn’t increase the deficit over a four-year or 10-year period.

Daines doesn’t support a single-payer system, but his amendment could force Democrats to publicly say if they back the proposal.

He used a similar tactic during the GOP ObamaCare repeal debate by forcing a vote on a single-payer system.

The amendment failed in a 0-57 vote with Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) — who are each up for reelection in states won by Trump in November — and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) all voting “no.”

The vote was widely viewed as a political maneuver to get Democrats, particularly the 10 up for reelection in red states, on the record.

During the ObamaCare repeal debate, Republicans warned that lawmakers could either vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act or slide closer to a government-run health insurance system.

The idea of single payer has gained traction among the liberal ranks of the Democratic Party. A bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last month has won over 17 cosponsors — just over a third of the Senate Democratic caucus.

A vote on Daines’s amendment hasn’t been scheduled, but under vote-a-rama — a marathon floor session — any senator can force a vote on their proposal.

The amendment uses a “reserve fund” — essentially a placeholder for the future legislation — and Trump doesn’t sign the budget, meaning even if Daines did somehow get enough support to pass it, a single-payer system wouldn’t become law.