I think Paul Waldman has this exactly right--Medicare for Anyone is the future for the Democrats. I called the "Medicare for Anyone" idea "Medicare for All (Who Want It)" in a post awhile back but it's the same idea. Instead of replacing the private insurance market wholesale, we simply open up Medicare to anyone who wants it. But if they don't want it, they can keep the health insurance they have.
Of course, the policy details of this get complicated in terms of cost, organization, implementation, etc. They are well worked out in the DeLauro-Schakowdky Medicare for America plan and in CAP's Medicare Extra for All plan. Those details need not detain us here.
The point is that the basic idea is simple, salable, avoids big political potholes and gets us a hell of a long way in the right direction. As Waldman says:
"There are three main reasons [why this is the direction Democrats will go in]. First, this kind of plan satisfies, at least for the most part, the progressive desire to insure everyone and eliminate the pathological features of the current system. Second, it addresses what is probably the greatest vulnerability of single-payer plans: the fear of change. It’s foolish to think that fear can be eliminated through sufficient logical persuasion, and Republicans will absolutely exploit it when they fight against whatever Democrats propose. So the fact that joining Medicare would be voluntary is essential to these proposals.
And finally, it’s easy to explain. I cannot stress enough how important this is. The ACA was an absolute nightmare to explain to people, which left it vulnerable to all the demagoguery and lies Republicans could muster. Like Medicare-for-all, Medicare For Anyone is just three words, and it requires no explanation at all. You know what Medicare is, right? It’s the program your grandmother is on, the one she loves. Now anyone can join. That’s it."
That's it indeed. The press will continue to feast on stories about Democratic disagreements on health care. But in the end I suspect this is where we'll end up. And that'll be a good thing.