A res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”) post:
In an ideal world, I’d be a single-payer guy. But I see the chance of getting universal care, imperfect but fixable, just a couple of years from now. And I want to grab that chance.
Ezra Klein: The Deceptive Strategy Underlying Obamacare, 2009
I would like to sign the insurance companies out of existence with my pen. It would be sweet. But it’s never going to happen in this country where we have sent a multi-billion dollar industry employing tens of thousands of people in every district in America out in one shot…They have a sneaky strategy, the point of which is to put in place something that over time, the natural incentive in its own market [is] to move it to single payer.
Ezra Klein, 2009, interview with Sanders
[Klein] Lastly, you’re the author of one of my favorite pieces of legislation: The bill to create a prize process for pharmaceuticals. Want to say a word on that?
[Sanders] That makes single payer look like a conservative bill! [Laughs] All that that does is take on the entire pharmaceutical industry and say that everything they’ve been telling the world for many years is simply not true. They’re not using their huge profits into new research for drugs. The best way to get the research we need to address the medical problems we face is to provide a prize to those companies willing to address the most serious problems in the world, and not worry about my baldness or cosmetic me-too drugs, which is what they do.
What we’re saying is okay, you come up with a solution to these very serious health problems which are killing millions of people and you’ll get financial renumeration for it. It changes the whole dynamic. Right now, billion and billions are going into medical research funded by taxpayers into this country. But when the drug is developed, the profits go to the pharmaceutical company. This may be the most radical legislation I’ve ever introduced because it would transform the worldwide pharmaceutical industry.
James Surowecki, 2010
The truth is that we could do just fine without them: an insurance system with community rating and universal access has no need of private insurers. In fact, the U.S. already has such a system: it’s known as Medicare. In most areas, it’s true, private companies do a better job of managing costs and providing services than the government does. But not when it comes to health care: over the past decade, Medicare’s spending has risen more slowly than that of private insurers. A single-payer system also has the advantage of spreading risk across the biggest patient pool possible. So if you want to make health insurance available to everyone, regardless of risk, the most sensible solution would be to expand Medicare to everyone. That’s not going to happen. The fear of government-run health care, the power of vested interests, and the difficulty of completely overhauling the system have made the single-payer solution a bridge too far for Washington, and for much of the public as well. (Support for a single-payer system hovers around fifty per cent.) That’s why the current reform plans rely instead on a mishmash of regulations, national exchanges, and subsidies. Instead of replacing private insurance companies, the proposed reforms would, in theory, turn them into something like public utilities. That’s how it works in the Netherlands and Switzerland, with reasonably good results. One could recoil in disgust at the inefficiency and incoherence of the process—at the fact that private insurers will continue to make billions a year providing services the government has shown, via Medicare, that it can provide on its own. But, messy as the reform plans are, they can still dramatically transform the system for the good. Reform would guarantee that tens of millions of people who don’t have insurance will get it, and that people who have insurance now won’t have to worry about losing it. And, by writing community rating and universal access into law, Congress will effectively be committing itself to the idea that health care, regardless of risk, is a right. If a little incoherence is the price of that deal, it’s worth paying.
Jonathan Chait, 2011
I understand disaffected liberals. I wish Obama had been able to pass a single-payer healthcare bill. I thought the Iraq war sounded like total bullshit when it was being pitched in 2002. I wish we had never gone in, and I wish we had gotten out sooner. I wish the bank reforms had teeth to them, especially considering what we just went through.
Obama, 2003 (with video)
I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. [applause I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”
This is a two trillion dollar part of our economy and it is my belief that it’s not just politically but economically it is better for us to start getting a system in place–a universal healthcare system signed into law by the end of my first term as president and build off that system to further to make it more rational….
By the way, Canada did not start immediately with a single payer system. They had a similar transition step.
Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA), 2009
I think if we get a good public option, it could lead to single payer and that’s the best way to reach single payer.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), 2009
And next to me was a guy from the insurance company who then argued against the public health insurance option saying, ‘It wouldn’t let private insurance compete–that a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single payer.’ He was right. The man was right.