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President Obama Gets Us One Step Closer To Single Payer Health Insurance

President Obama Gets Us One Step Closer To Single Payer Health Insurance

It’s not the public health insurance option progressives fought for during the crafting of the Affordable Care Act, but it is close.

The Obama administration is preparing to have the federal government take a more prominent role in health care reform by sponsoring two new multi-state health insurance plans that will be available for individuals and small businesses to purchase under the state exchanges created by Obamacare. Those exchanges launch in 2014.

As reported in the New York Times, the national plans will compete directly with other private insurance plans. Premiums and benefits for the federal plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personal Management, the same agency that oversees benefits for federal employees — employees like congressional representatives. The details of these plans have yet to be finalized, but if conservative concern over the plans is any indication, progressives may have scored more of a victory than we first realized with Obamacare.

Robert E. Moffit, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the New York Times that he worried that “the nationwide health plans, operating under terms and conditions set by the federal government, will become the robust public option that liberals always wanted.” That’s because the federal government will be able to create larger groups of insured to leverage the most advantageous coverage. Opponents of these plans argue this tilts the balance of power to the government’s benefit in the market while supporters note this simply allows individuals who had previously been unable to collectively bargain for coverage to do so fairly.

While the creation of these multi-state exchanges are certainly a step in the right direction, and holds a lot of promise, women are once again being short-changed in the coverage thanks to anti-choice politicking over abortion access. So while conservatives love to insist taxpayer dollars subsidize abortion under Obamacare, that is simply not the case.

The federal health care law stipulates that at least one of the multi-state plans offered must provide insurance without coverage for abortion services. For those plans that do cover abortions, those plans must establish separate accounts, one for abortion services and one for all other medical services. That means additional burden and expense built in for women needing comprehensive insurance coverage, even at the federal level.

On the whole, though, so long as the American health insurance industry insists on a grouping risk and benefits, and so long as Congress seems unwilling to seriously take on the issue of breaking the health insurance monopolies of care, then these multi-state plans are the best way of providing the best coverage to the most people at the most affordable cost. And it’s just another reminder of what is at stake in this election.

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Photo from chimothy27 via flickr.

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1:13AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

I should have been clear that single payer is the kind of universal health coverage we need.

1:10AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Progressives in the U.S. have been trying for universal health care for a hundred years now: it was part of former President Theodore Roosevelt's platform when he ran in 1912 but was unfortunately defeated. The American Medical Association campaigned against the terrors of "socialized medicine" for years. They seem pretty quiet about it these days, but are no doubt still funding PAC's to try to defeat it. Since 1912 we've had a century of people dying for lack of medical care, some going bankrupt trying to pay medical bills, some having to choose between food and medicine, and indigent people making hugely expensive publicly funded emergency room visits because they can't afford insurance. It's long past time we caught up with the vast majority of other nations and recognized health care as a universal human right!

6:43PM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Bill E. is on point. We do need to get to a single payer system, but the insurance industry has owned the GOP for ages!

8:50AM PST on Nov 9, 2012

Tricia H--if it is coming from the middle class, and not the rich, it is because people in the United States have not pushed President Obama hard enough from the time he was first elected until now for the medical care, action against the big banks, and repair of the economy which he promised in his first campaign, and which are obviously still popular. The Republican Party, which (as well as the Democratic Party, sad to say) is bankrolled by the rich and powerful as well as corporate America, was never going to let an Universal Healthcare plan get passed, but if something had to get through, strangle it by filling it with the private insurance companies, the money-hungry beauraucracies that make the US healthcare system the most bloated in the world, and contribute the most to its expensive, yet 2nd-rate nature. If you want a first-rate health-care system, start state-by-state, like Vermont, with a single-payer system. One insurer that cuts out the profit motive, will have you running a world-class health-care system in all your states before you know it. These multi-state pools are a big improvement, and expanding Medicaid gets kids covered. If you have been refused before for a pre-existing condition, too, the ACA must seem pretty sweet. Prayers from Canada. No one has ever waited here for 10 years even for 2 knee surgeries, unless they were unfit for surgery for some reason.

8:24AM PST on Nov 9, 2012

I hope that everyone knows that it will be taken from the middleclass, not the rich!!

8:07AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Sarah H, it was the members of congress who came up with the insurance mandate NOT President Obama. And it sounds as though your main concern is having to pay something for your health care rather than getting it for FREE. It's you who has "socialistic dreams."

7:55AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

I am all for single payer, unfortunately our politicians are owned by the insurance industry.

3:07AM PST on Nov 5, 2012

Very interesting, thanks!

10:33AM PDT on Nov 3, 2012


4:54PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Sorry Sarah, I still don't believe it. Your info is second or third hand with no details.There is absolutely no reason why anyone would wait 10 years for surgery & I've never seen it in 40+ yrs.It is FALSE - end of discussion.Stuff like that is never direct from the horse's mouth, the actual person is it?
I also noticed you made no mention about (1 - Socialism as a system (2 - Obama not instituting a socialist health care system (3 - Obamacare being based on Romneycare (4 - The unrealistic fear Americans have of Socialism when they don't even know what it is. The powers that be want to keep you ignorant & misinformed otherwise the public would be mad as hell & ready to revolt. As for the economy, that is beyond Obama's control.The depression is world wide.You can't swim if there are ten people around you drowning & climbing on you trying to survive. Romney again would make it worse because he has destroyed so many businesses & outsourced so many jobs via Bain. Sure he's a good businessman.That means his interest is profit & business, not you.People like Nader & Kucinich who tell the truth would never be elected as a third party, the Dems & Reps would see to that.

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