The public option is back and as dishonest as ever

President Obama is apparently not done lying about his health plan. Having pushed Obamacare with false claims such as the infamous lie “if you like your plan, you can keep it” the President is now calling for the return of the public option without admitting the real goal of the program from the start was to crowd out private insurance and usher in single-payer.

In a piece published by the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA) Obama writes:

…the majority of the country has benefited from competition in the Marketplaces, with 88% of enrollees living in counties with at least 3 issuers in 2016, which helps keep costs in these areas low. However, the remaining 12% of enrollees live in areas with only 1 or 2 issuers. Some parts of the country have struggled with limited insurance market competition for many years, which is one reason that, in the original debate over health reform, Congress considered and I supported including a Medicare-like public plan. Public programs like Medicare often deliver care more cost-effectively by curtailing administrative overhead and securing better prices from providers. The public plan did not make it into the final legislation. Now, based on experience with the ACA, I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited. Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the Marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government.

The public option is being framed in terms of choice and competition. In reality, it was always intended to be a glide-path to the single-payer system the president and many Democrats really wanted. This isn’t a supposition. The person who created the public option, Jacob Hacker, admitted he would be happy to see it crowd out private insurers over time:

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber put it even more bluntly, equating the public option with single-payer:

This was fully understood to be the purpose of the public option back in 2009-2010, at least among Democratic insiders. Here’s a spokesman for Health Care for America Now, the lobbying group assembled to help pass the ACA, framing the public option and an achievable path to single-payer in May 2009:

The reason the public option didn’t make it into the bill, ultimately, is because democrats got careless about expressing their real goals in public:

I’m rehashing all of this now because you’ll notice none of it was mentioned by President Obama in his argument for giving the public option a 2nd look. He’s claiming this is about choice and competition when he knows this has always been about shifting America toward single-payer.

Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton also embraced the public option. Don’t expect her to be any more forthcoming about its real goals.

Democrats shouldn’t have to cheat to win. If they want single-payer, let them stand up for it openly the way Bernie Sanders does. If they want a path to single-payer, they should admit it and let the public judge it openly. But that hasn’t been the pattern with this president. He’d still prefer to sell this using marketing slogans.