This piece is part of Fighting for Our Lives: The Movement for Medicare for All, a Truthout original series. By Michael Corcoran

As Republicans seek to throw millions of Americans off insurance this week, progressives are, once again, playing defense. Activists are going full bore to stop the Cassidy-Graham bill, which is opposed byvirtually every health organization of significance. The legislation, which grows more contemptible with each passing day, would lead to about 41,600 deaths a year, according to a report released yesterday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“We cannot be silent while Congress plays political games with the lives of our patients,” said Dr. Carol Paris, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in a statement sent to Truthout.

Critics of single-payer in the media repeatedly point to its so-called “failure” in Vermont as a reason why proposals can’t work. Vermont made major progress on a single-payer bill in 2010 but Gov. Peter Shumlin abandoned the effort in 2014, controversially citing costs — and not political obstacles — as the reason.

Shumlin added to this narrative last week as he once again defended his 2014 decision to abandon single-payer. As the Cornell Policy Review points out, three state-commissioned studies concluded that the proposal would be “economically feasible” but was “scuttled by political barriers and poor management.”

“Single-payer didn’t fail in Vermont,” said Jessica Early, a health care justice organizer for Rights and Democracy Vermont. “We never had single-payer because politicians did not have the political will to follow through on it.”