GOP senator forces Dems to vote on single payer

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) wants Democrats to show their cards on single-payer healthcare.

The GOP senator has filed an amendment to implement a government-funded healthcare system in a political maneuver aimed at forcing Democrats to say whether they support the concept that is picking up steam on the left. 

A vote on the amendment has been scheduled for Thursday.

It’s almost certain Daines doesn’t support a single-payer system. 

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The vote would be part of the ObamaCare repeal bill vote-a-rama — a rapid succession of amendments that can last hours, oftentimes stretching through the night and into the next early morning. Vote-a-ramas are often a time when senators force their colleagues across the aisle to take tough votes, which can be turned into political attack ads later.

During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate passes 6B defense bill Manchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Kasich: There’s a disease in American politics MORE (I-Vt.) championed the idea of "Medicare for All."

It’s gained traction as more Democratic candidates have embraced the idea. Recently, senators such as Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump surprises with consumer agency pick Senate passes 6B defense bill Dems must stop picking foxes to guard the financial hen house MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate passes 6B defense bill Congress must confront sexual abuse of military children The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE (D-N.Y.) have rallied around universal coverage. And a Medicare-for-all bill in the House has already garnered 115 co-sponsors, which is almost double the amount the legislation received last congressional session.

Senate Democrats have to defend 23 seats next election and another two held by independents who caucus with the Democrats. Those up for re-election include Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterManchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Trump signs VA reform bill without Democratic co-author The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Primary results give both parties hopes for November MORE (D-Mont.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonHillicon Valley: Supreme Court takes up Apple case | Senate votes to block ZTE deal | Officials testify on Clinton probe report | Russia's threat to undersea cables | Trump tells Pentagon to create 'space force' | FCC begins T-Mobile, Sprint deal review Overnight Defense: Trump directs Pentagon to create 'Space Force' | Lawmakers say new branch needs their approval | Senate passes 6B defense policy bill | Pentagon suspends planning for 'war game' with South Korea Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Governors criticize Trump move on pre-existing conditions MORE (D-Fla.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyManchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms Todd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm MORE (D-Ind.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillManchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Dem poll: McCaskill leads by 6 in Missouri Senate race The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE (D-Mo.). 

The legislation from Daines appears to be the same language as the Medicare-for-all bill in the House sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

But single-payer isn’t a unifying message among Democrats.

“It’ll tend to be an issue that more left-leaning Democrats are willing to embrace,” said Dan Mendelson, president of consulting firm Avalere Health, told The Hill earlier this month.

“In order to embrace that concept, you’ll have to be willing to defend the efficiency and effectiveness of a fully run government system, and there are many Democrats who are not going to do that and there are some who are.”

Yet, healthcare has also divided the Republican conference, fractions which one Democrat said could speed up the timeline of a single-payer system becoming a reality.

“They have made the public more aware of Medicaid than ever before, specifically, and healthcare generally,” Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerBipartisan lawmakers agree — marijuana prohibition has failed and it’s time to change the law Commodity checkoff reform needed Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes 6B defense bill | Senate version advances MORE (D-Ore.) said Wednesday at The Hill’s Health Rx: Building Affordability & Access event. “They’ve accelerated the move toward single-payer, probably advancing it by a decade.”

Jordain Carney contributed to this report