Howard Dean is the latest in a string of Hillary Clinton supporters to charge that Bernie Sanders is wrong to support a single-payer health care plan. The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee claimed on MSNBC last night that Sanders’ reform might result in “chaos” because “trying to implement it would in fact undo people’s health care.” Dean added, “That is something people should be concerned about.”
This evolution of Dean, known within many circles for his spirited critique of the Iraq War during the 2004 Democratic primary, comes as he has settled into a corporate lobbying career.
Dean, though he rarely discloses the title during his media appearances, now serves as senior advisor to the law firm Dentons, where he works with the firm’s Public Policy and Regulation practice, a euphemism for Dentons’ lobbying team. Dean is not a lawyer, but neither is Newt Gingrich, who is among the growing list of former government officials and politicians that work in the Public Policy and Regulation practice of Dentons.
The Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practice lobbies on behalf of a variety of corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.
In 2009, Dean praised single-payer while speaking on Democracy Now, calling the idea “by far the most economically efficient system.” That’s because, as Dean noted at the time, a Medicare-for-all style single-payer system would cut down on bureaucratic overhead and do a better job at controlling prices. An analysis by University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Gerald Friedman found that the single-payer plan introduced into the last Congress, for instance, would save $592 billion, while expanding coverage to all uninsured Americans, regardless of ability to pay. Over 95 percent of households would see higher after-tax income because of the cost controls and elimination of insurance premiums.
Dean, a longtime supporter of single-payer, seemed to be changing his tune, a point made by host Chris Hayes during the segment.