Harry Reid predicts U.S. will eventually have single-payer health-care system
And I hope he's right:
In just about seven weeks, people will be able to start buying Obamacare-approved insurance plans through the new health care exchanges.
But already, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is predicting those plans, and the whole system of distributing them, will eventually be moot.
Reid said he thinks the country has to "work our way past" insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS' program "Nevada Week in Review."
"What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we're far from having something that's going to work forever," Reid said.
When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: "Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes."
The idea of introducing a single-payer national health care system to the United States, or even just a public option, sent lawmakers into a tizzy back in 2009, when Reid was negotiating the health care bill.
"We had a real good run at the public option... don't think we didn't have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system," Reid said on the PBS program, recalling how then-Sen. Joe Lieberman's opposition to the idea of a public option made them abandon the notion and start from scratch.
Eventually, Reid decided the public option was unworkable.
"We had to get a majority of votes," Reid said. "In fact, we had to get a little extra in the Senate, we have to get 60."
On that, he is right. Single-payer, or at least a public option, would have been immensely better than the Republican-style system of "Obamacare," but it just wasn't going to happen. (Damn Lieberman, though he wasn't the only obstacle.) It's amazing how many on the left still don't understand this. I do think Obama could have done more to push for more progressive reform (assuming he actually wants a more progressive system), but the realities of the legislative branch are what they are, and it's quite amazing as it is that Reid et al. were able to get anything of substance passed at all given Republican opposition and obstructionism, conservative lies, and the concerns and objections of Democrats like Lieberman.
I wanted much more but ended up supporting Obamacare as probably the best that could have been achieved at the time -- and, yes, as the necessary thin end of the wedge that might just lead to more progressive reform down the road. And while a single-payer system isn't coming anytime soon, it's out there as the next step, or the one after that, and it may well be that the (highly likely) success of Obamacare, contra Republican fearmongering, is what eventually opens the door to it.