Former Single-Payer Hater Now Loves the Idea

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is one of the primary reasons Obamacare did not include a public option or some other form of government-run insurance program open to everyone.

In his capacity as chairman, Baucus categorically ruled out the possibility of passing some form of single-payer program while the contents of the Affordable Care Care (Obamacare) were still being considered, but in 2017 he's finally come around to the idea.

Back then, Baucus said, he felt adamantly that Congress wouldn’t pass a government-run system like Canada’s. So it was the one alternative he refused to put “on the table” for consideration.

But you can see the difference, Baucus said, when you visit hospitals on either side of the border. In Montana, half a rural hospital will be dedicated to processing medical insurance claims. In Canada, he said, just one small room is needed to verify that patients are residents.

And Americans pay much higher drug prices, he said, because the government can’t negotiate better prices with the drug industry, so U.S. patients end up subsidizing drug prices for the rest of the world.

No shit?

I suppose it's better late than never, but come on. He built this. I can't say he was the only reason this didn't happen, because he isn't, but he never even gave it a chance.

Now, Baucus did say something else that I won't quibble over. He lamented the demise of earmarks and "pork" spending because they were useful tools for convincing members of Congress to support far more important legislation. I doubt anyone would tell you so-called "pork barrel" spending didn't need to be reformed, but eliminating it entirely probably did more harm than good.

Of course, we eliminated that kind of spending at a time when the Republican party and the village pundits became obsessed with deficit reduction at the expense of all other things. You know, after the first black president took office. Fast forward to 2017 and the GOP is seriously considering passing an even worse version of the deficit-financed Bush Tax Cuts.

It's a minor miracle that Obamacare passed even without the elements some of us would like to see.