Hillary Clinton revives the public option

posted at 1:01 pm on February 23, 2016 by John Sexton

As Hillary tries to secure the nomination she has been forced to run left to counter the far-left proposals of Bernie Sanders. Sanders plan for health care is to move the U.S. to a full-fledged single-payer system like the one in Canada. Hillary isn’t willing to go that far but, as Politico notes, she is willing to propose Democrats revive the next best thing:

Clinton’s campaign has updated its website to note her continued support for the government-run health plan that was dropped from Obamacare during the law’s drafting. The idea was popular among progressives who prefer a single-payer plan — like the one Bernie Sanders is touting.

The Clinton camp is emphasizing the continuity of Hillary’s position, i.e. she supported this in 2008 and she still supports it today. In fact, the health page of her campaign web site didn’t mention the public option at all as recently as 9 days ago.

What’s most interesting about the return of the public option is how different the landscape is now compared to six years ago when this almost made it into the Affordable Care Act. Back then Democratic insiders knew the public option was a gimmick designed to undercut private insurance companies and lead the country to single-payer, but that fact was generally kept very quiet. If you had said out loud, back in 2009, that the public option was a trojan-horse for single-payer, the line of Democrats ready to call you as a liar would have stretched for several blocks and would have included the President himself. “Let me also address and illegitimate concern that’s being put forward by those who are claiming that a public option is somehow a Trojan-horse for a single-payer system,” the President told the American Medical Association in 2009.

All of that was of course a tremendous lie, an even bigger lie than the one the President told about keeping your plan (and your doctor) if you liked them. The only reason this didn’t become the lie of the year is because Joe Lieberman caught on to what it was intended to do and demanded its removal from the bill. Because Democrats needed every single vote, they had no choice but to drop it.

But the landscape has changed quite a bit since 2009. The public option is still a gimmick designed to move the country toward single-payer but that’s not so secret anymore. Sen. Harry Reid all but admitted it in 2013, making it pretty difficult for supporters to keep up the pretense that they have no ulterior motive. Add to that the fact that socialism is now much more openly admired, especially by younger Democrats who see Bernie Sanders (or someone like him) as the future of the party.

By bringing up the public option again, Hillary is signaling that she’s willing to aim the country toward single-payer, just in a more gradual, less disruptive way. If Bernie is offering a revolution, Hillary is offering a renovation.

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