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Pelosi: Public Option the Next Best Thing to Single-Payer

John on October 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

A few months ago I signed up to receive e-mails from some of the groups supporting single-payer. Today I received an e-mail from this group that reads, in part:

Congressman Wiener needs your help on his single payer Medicare For All amendment.  I just got back from a conference in Boston where Rep. Wiener asked for help on two things…

Remarkably, Speaker Pelosi said in Democratic Caucus “If it were up to me, we would have single payer.” Let’s remind Nancy Pelosi with a flood of faxes:  it IS up to her because she is the Speaker.

As it turns out this isn’t the only time Pelosi has offered support for single-payer. Back in July she took part in an online discussion at Crooks and Liars. In response to a comment supporting single-payer she replied:

For 30 years I have supported a single payer plan, but our next best choice is to support an exchange and a public option. In the exchange, as with the health insurance that Members of Congress have, consumers can shop and compare. The insurance companies cannot descriminiate among people on the basis of their preexisting conditions. I share your frustration with the insurance companies, and we must stop them from coming between patients and their doctors.

The bit about competition is boilerplate, but her “frustration” with private insurance is worrisome. And how exactly does the public option prevent insurance companies from “coming between” patients and doctors. Doesn’t all insurance do that? In any case, I thought the public option was limited to a small pool and wouldn’t affect you plan at all if you had private insurance. What is she getting at here?

A bit later in the thread she was asked what people should do to insure the bill didn’t get watered down. Her reply:

In the next few weeks it is necesary for everyone who cares about universal quality health care to make their voices heard to their Members of Congress and the Senate.

We will be more successful if the emphasis is on a robust public option and the exchange, rather than single-payer.

This can be a transformative moment in our country’s history with great impact on America’s families. Please help us achieve affordable, quality comprehensive health care for all Americans.

Sort of reminds me of Ezra Klein’s statement, “At some point you have to win.” I think Pelosi knows, as all the top Dems seem to, that the public option is just single-payer waiting to happen. Pass it now, make a few eligibility tweaks later and we’ll have the single-payer Pelosi says she prefers.

It’s too bad the press doesn’t want to let the American people in on the plan.

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