The Conversation

Yes, the Democrats' Plan Was to Create a Transition to Single Payer

Wednesday night Sean Hannity brought up a topic which deserves more attention than it has ever received from the media. Is the ACA intended to transition us to single-payer? The answer to this question is yes, though unfortunately the discussion didn't stay focused on the reasons why for very long:

Hannity played this clip of Obama saying he was "a proponent of a single payer universal health care program." But it wasn't just Obama. During the fight to pass the Affordable Care Act, many top Democrat admitted this is what they wanted. A few others have admitted it more recently.

In August Harry Reid said "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." Asked to clarify if the next step was single payer Reid replied "Yes, yes, absolutely yes."

Just this week Nancy Pelosi said "I myself would’ve preferred single payer or public option, but this was a compromise." Notice it's single payer or public option. She lists them together because they are ultimately the same thing. Democrats didn't get to keep their public option surprise but it will be back as soon as they can ram it through.

In 2007 Kathleen Sebelius said "I'm all for a single payer system eventually" but her preferred strategy was to "work to close the gap." In other words universal coverage now, single payer later.

Senator Russ Feingold made it clear he wanted Obamacare to be a transition step in a May 2009 interview with Democracy Now. He said "I believe the goal here is to create whatever legislation we have in a way that could be developed into something like a single payer system."

In July 2009, Barney Frank gave an interview in which he said "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." Rahm Emmanuel when asked why single payer had been taken off the table by the President offered this cagey reply "the objective is what's important it's not the means."

And of course back in April 2009 Rep. Schakowsky admitted the public option would put private insurers out of business. That was the whole the point.

HCAN was the liberal interest super-group created to push Obamacare through Congress. In 2009 a spokesman for the group explained during a public meeting why they were pushing the President's plan rather than single payer. He explained that it was important to think strategically saying "I'm saying single payer is the public health insurance option. Your single payer is right there."

For the record, it wasn't just the politicians who knew what Democrats were trying to do. In 2009 pundit Paul Krugman said he was pinching himself over the possibility of getting universal coverage which could lead to single payer over time.

And of course Ezra Klein admitted it was a "sneaky strategy" to get there over time. Notice that Klein wasn't speaking for himself he was speaking on behalf of those who couldn't be as forthcoming as he could.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, one of the authors of the strategy Obama adopted admitted this was his goal in 2008. Jacob Hacker said his plan was not a "trojan horse" because "it's just right there." Hacker was admitting his goal was to transition people to single payer over time.

As we know Democrats did not get the public option they wanted, but that does not change the fact that it was part of their strategy. They wanted a transition to single payer and they got 80 percent of it with Obamacare.

Given all the evidence that the Democratic party wanted single payer and had a sneaky, strategic plan to get there over time, it's disappointing to hear Hannity suggest this is a conspiracy theory. To paraphrase Jacob Hacker, it's not a conspiracy, it's just right there. Democrats wanted single payer in 2008-2010 and they still do.


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