Dem rep: Public option is path to single payer

Actually, that’s about the only thing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) gets correct in this interview on our local public television station with Almanac’s Kathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola. Gary Gross caught this moment of honesty, but really, there’s so much in this three minutes of television beyond the admission of the Trojan horse in the House bill that this almost pales into insignificance:

WURZER: Politics is the art of compromise.


WURZER: So how are you all gonna compromise?

REP. ELLISON: Most of us are co-authors of HR676, which is a single-payer bill so we feel like we’ve already compromised. I think that the reality is the public option has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as saving $150 billion, so this actually helps deal with the fiscal responsibility issues…It offers choice, which is a good thing…

ESKOLA: Isn’t the public option really just a step towards the single payer that you want so much?

REP. ELLISON: Yes but the reality is that for many people that’s not what it is.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky has said the same thing on multiple occasions, so this is not exactly a smoking gun, or at least not the first. Better, though, are some of the other hilarious assertions Ellison makes in this clip. For instance:

  • Ellison’s idea of “diversity” is having a teleconference comprising people who all believe the same thing.
  • The progressive caucus “feels like we compromised” because they had to drop an explicitly single-payer bill for one Ellison admits is a Trojan horse for the same thing.
  • Ellison lauds the same CBO scoring that shows that HR3200 will cost a fortune and drive up the deficit in both the near- and long-term.

The health-care “exchanges” are just like the stock market or a farmer’s market, according to Ellison, and this is really ludicrous.  The government isn’t setting up the exchanges to create more choice, but to limit choices to government-approved plans.  Furthermore, the government doesn’t set up stock exchanges or farmers markets.  People do that on their own.  Insurers don’t need a government-owned exchange to offer products to consumers, either.  They offer products to them now.  The “exchange” is another word for licensing, which restricts choice by definition.  Ellison says, “This is competition,” when he says in the very next breath that it will lead to a single-payer system.

At the end, Ellison mentions that the US is 37th among industrialized countries for its health-care system, by which I presume he means life expectancy, which is roughly correct.  Plenty of other factors than health care go into life expectancy, however, including diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices.  If we want to compare actual health care, it seems to me that these numbers make more sense: For cancer survival among women, the US comes in first at 62.9%, and for cancer survival rate among men, the US comes in first at 66.3%.  Those numbers directly relate to quality of care and innovation in treatment.