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Harry Reid: Obamacare first step to single-payer system

By   /   October 21, 2013  /   News  /   48 Comments

AP photo

FIRST STEP: Obamacare is only the first step to a more fully-socialized single-payer health care system, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, right.


By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

As the nation enters the third week of the Obamacare health exchange implementation, it’s worth taking a second look at some interesting comments made in August by one of the chief architects of the law.

In short, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., never really thought the exchanges would work.

He just sees the Affordable Care Act as the first step to a fully government-run health care system, something that could be easier to achieve after the glitch-riddled, problematic opening of the federal health insurance exchanges this month.

During an appearance on a Las Vegas PBS program in August, Reid said he sees a national single-payer health system as the natural next step for health care in America.  Reid said the nation had to “work its way past” insurance-based health care, according to a recap provided by the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.

The so-called “single-payer system” essentially would do away with private health insurance and would allow the government to become the sole provider of medical costs (though all costs would actually be picked up by the taxpayers, of course), similar to the socialized medical systems in Canada, Great Britain and elsewhere.  The benefits of a single-payer system, from the government’s point of view at least, is that it does away with one of those pesky Obamacare problems — having to get people to enroll in the exchanges through their own free will.

Before passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, both Reid and Obama were on the record as preferring the so-called “public option” — basically a small-scale single-payer system for the uninsured.  But there was not enough support for that in Congress, in large part because the major insurance companies happen to be major campaign donors and have powerfully lobbyists.

Instead, the Affordable Care Act keeps private insurance companies at the center of the equation through the exchanges to offer insurance for those without coverage.

Reid said that just wouldn’t cut it in the long run.

According to the Sun, when Reid was asked if he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”

Some on the right have proposed that Obamacare is designed to fail, giving the government an opening to justify moving to a single-payer system.  But most observers have suggested that is not the explicit intention of the Obama administration or Congress, particularly after the difficulty involved in passing the Affordable Care Act.

Still, problems with Obamacare’s implementation could grease the skids for a move to a single-payer system, particularly if Congress decides it has to “do something” about the law’s shortcomings.

If single-payer is seriously on the table in the next decade or so, it will almost certainly be because of problems, and public dissatisfaction, with Obamacare,” wrote a prescient Peter Suderman for Reason.com in August.

But Suderman ultimately concluded that Reid’s comments shouldn’t be overl -analyzed.  He likely was just throwing progressives a bone by suggesting Obamacare could get them closer to the single-payer system they truly desire.

Regardless of whether Obamacare succeeds or fails in the eyes of the public, there is little doubt that progressives will continue to make their case for the single-payer system.

On Sept. 30, the day before the health-insurance exchanges went online, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., who is as progressive as they come in the halls of Congress, penned an op-ed to The Guardian newspaper calling for a move to a single-payer system.

The Affordable Care Act, he said, was “a start,” he wrote, echoing Reid’s words from a month earlier.

“The only long-term solution to America’s healthcare crisis is a single-payer national healthcare program,” Sanders wrote. “The American people understand that our current healthcare system is not working.”

After the changes implemented by Obamacare, more people may think the existing healthcare system does not work.  Then the question must be asked: What comes next?

Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org. Follow him on Twitter at @EricBoehm87



Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at eboehm@watchdog.org.

  • lillymckim

    It was the socialists dream all along…

  • Dolo200@yahoo.com

    Billions of dollars wasted on lies and for the ACA to fail. One payer system is government control and the plan all along. Wake up people, Obama is about toal control. If people don’t understand that then remember what Josef Stalin said, ” Socialized Medicine is the Cornerstone to Communism.”

  • JimBob

    Obamacare is an utter and complete disaster.

  • RaisingHellinTwentyTwelve

    why is it that no one serving in Congress is under ObamaCare ??? that in itself should tell you all you need to know about the POS that is Obammycare

  • Dah

    Isn’t harry and quite a few others past their expiration date?

  • rangerrebew

    Single Payer = monopoly = total control of Americans and grinding them between the millstones of inflation and taxation – just like Lenin said communists should do.

  • cozyk

    great news!

  • Laurence Almand

    What does Reid care? He and the other Senators are EXEMPT from this scheme. Well, the voters put these bueaucrats in power, so they will pay the price – and a high price it will be.

  • smelltest

    MORE SEQUESTER, the government seems to work better when it is shut down.

  • giatny

    The call for Medicare for everyone continues to ignore the fact that
    Medicare is already near bankruptcy and demonstrably unsustainable.
    The single payer advocates never acknowledge that in countries with
    that system everyone pays in 15-20% of income for health care, regular
    income tax, and a 20% value added tax. There is no way for it to
    work with half of the country not paying in.

  • Hadit

    Listen up right wing idiots. The ACA is to help people that DO NOT have insurance! So shut up whining about something that has no affect on 95percent of U.S. citizens. Turn off fox damn you all are stupid enough.

  • Hadit

    I’m sorry

  • Tedshred

    Hadit should log off & go ask the 85% if it has affected them. I am in the 85% & my cost next month are officially 25% higher. I am willing to bet that my costs next year will go up again. The ACA is designed to slowly drag us into Govt run healthcare….in a country with 322million people. What an insane proposition. Canada has about 35 million, Austrailia has 23 million, Britain has 60million. All of those countries combined equals about 37% of the U.S. Population. Socialized medicine is a good idea….IN SMALLER COUNTRIES or state by state. “Oh please Uncle Sam, please take care of me wah wah wah”

  • HD

    My mother-in-law has Medicare and she received a notice saying her premiums were going up 100%! Next year. That’s right – 100% increase. Welcome to Obamacare and your “taxes” won’t go up if you make less than $250,000 lies. ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court because it is a TAX. So my mother in law who lives on social security will have a huge TAX increase next year. Who is throwing Granny off the cliff? Me thinks it’s Obama.

  • Hadit

    I don’t have to ask anyone. I’m capable of doing my own research. I’m am also in the 85 percent. You do realize that your insurance premiums go up every year don’t you? I never heard anyone say my insurance premium was going to decrease. Maybe it’s your company if you get insurance through your employer. You people are so quick to blame our president for everything you obviously know nothing about. You say you hate government and spending yet you have no problem with your party using government to discriminate against gays and women and spending 42 million on asinine repeal of a law Americans want. That was decided by an election. And how about the 24 billion on the government shutdown? Just because republicans don’t like the ACA? Where is the outrage? I forgot its ok if it’s conservatives. What a bunch of no information hypocrites. Pathetic!

  • Jim Kirk

    the only thing im signing up for is more ammo!!!

  • SixSixSix

    Bet you go back to school to use it too.

  • SixSixSix

    What? In smaller states…

  • SixSixSix

    Only in the Confederacy.

  • SixSixSix

    No, they are not. Stop buying the big lie. They have to go to the private market. Congress and aids were the only group explicit denied continuing employer coverage. They do get subsidies but that is an option any employer may provide.

  • SixSixSix

    Lies. First all Americans are under the ACA. Second Congress was the only group explicitly kicked out of employer group coverage. Check you facts for once.

  • SixSixSix

    Oh really, please the source of the comment.

  • Lemrob

    This whole administration is a disaster & a complete failure. American taxpayers are always the biggest losers as we have no representation in D C.

  • MyGiftMySon2010

    how odd in 2013 that people can’t distinguish between truth and propaganda… there is no war on women unless you want to state that women get pregnant then go to planned parent hood and have them murder their alive baby at any stage… Planned Parent Hood profits…that is war for the Mom and now they have a dead baby in which the democrat party profits from…. gay and lesbians VOTE Republican as they know that democrat party uses them for votes and financial gain… Blacks are held down by the democrat party for hate, anger and to win elections… the majority of the public does want a government health care plan.
    And NOT ONE Politician in the Democrat Party including the President or Speaker Nancy Pelosi NEW (which was a lie) what was in the bill….which makes me wonder why anyone would be sticking up for a bill that they don’t know about….they want a single payer 100% government run health care system… ACA was designed TO FAIL.
    for anyone to think that premiums will not go up under the ACA are mis-informed…the cost of living and doing business goes up every year…. just look at the price of gas today….all goes up.
    Our President is a flat out LIAR. While he may appear to be a nice guy His Policies have failed… all the stimulus packages failed, cars for clunker failed, auto bail out failed and all those jobs are headed to China… he is worth 20 million now and anyone reading this is not.
    Zero Dollars the Government could have made a choice to allow Insurance Companies to Sell Insurance across State Lines…. that would have dropped premiums and allowed the insurance to compete….
    BUT that would have left $0.00 in the pockets of democrat politicians….
    so if people are so hell bent on having the government think for them as they can’t then move to CUBA…
    2013 to me in the USA is an embarrassment to be AN American. Just look at they voted in 2 x’s …….to a person who has to have his words written for him and then repeats them on a teleprompter… that isn’t a leader… he Is a bleeder of the American Tax Payer.
    Around the World our Potus is a JOKE… no one talks with him … he is ignored as they know he lies. And these same World Leaders Long for the Great America to Come Back.

  • MyGiftMySon2010

    are you sure? if so it would be 100% of $102.00…
    ACA that was told by the democrat party was and is a bunch of lies … it was designed to lead the entire health care system to a single payer system… they will campaign lie belittle anyone who tells the truth…
    ** remember what the POTUS stated …. in order to cover the elder’s health care the youth will all have to sign up and pay… That is class war far.

  • MyGiftMySon2010

    your spouting talking points….
    please explain how the republican party uses government funds to discriminate on gays and women? for what your stating is 100% of women and gays/lesbians vote democrat which is incorrect…
    keep in mind.. conservatives didn’t like Bush and if you read Obama’s website you would have seen that he is a continuation of Bush’s Policies and then some…
    changing the channel of flow of information can help.

  • Free Market Filly

    1) Insurance premiums have skyrocketed thanks to the ACA which forces insurance companies to remove all caps on spending. Now families are finding out their premiums can reach as high as $27,000 a year to cover these unlimited costs.
    2) No one hates government. Conservatives want government power to be limited as outlined in our Constitution. The more power the federal government has, the less freedom you have. As it now stands government controls nearly all aspects of our lives. With a “single payer” system, i.e. government control of health care, the federal government will have the power to decide life and death without accountability or recourse.
    3) If you think objecting to having someone else pay for your contraceptives or abortion is discrimination, then you have no idea what personal responsibility means.
    4) Every poll shows the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want the ACA and do not want to be coerced into buying something they don’t choose to have. All the plans by Republicans for safety nets for those with pre-existing conditions, HSAs, and free market alternatives were ignored by the Democrats. The ACA was passed in the middle of the night without discussion or any Republican support, against the wishes of American citizens, and without anyone having read the bill – yes, Americans are outraged!

  • mtsnj

    we’ll just have to wait and see if your gonna like your new gubmint insurance. Gotta ax yourself why would they want to take over an insurance industry, that they could have just tweaked a few policies to get what they wanted..Do you really think the government is better at it than the professionals? answer= they want more Power. The more they have the less you will ever get back.
    What about the economy? What about a fix for 17T? Can’t keep throwing money into the pockets of legislators like this, cuz it certainly isn’t reaching the people.


    Single-Payer = Soylent Green…….You’d put your life and health in the Government’s hands? You’ll regret that decision……

  • Ginger

    It is about wealth distribution and Control of the populace..it is Not Constitutional for the government to have any authority for health care, housing, education, feeding people,etc. the current administration is speeding up the agenda of the progressives and now ,perhaps, people will awaken too the danger.

  • Ginger

    Same here..and less coverage, co-pays up and out of pocket up $2700…gee ain’t government redistribution of wealth just great.????

  • wildbill

    24 Billion on the “shut down”.. Yea ,It was used to Barricade Open air Monuments….Open your seedy little eyes,barrycare will not and Cannot Work,It was NEVER DESIGNED TO WORK..Your own god harry reid admitted it is only a step toward SINGLE PAYER…THREE YEARS TO GET This POS” Legislation” Rolling ,and NO TESTING WAS DONE…BS,It WAS NEVER DESIGNED TO WORK ,You IDIOT,We Have VETERANS BEING DENIED BENEFITS and We just gave the illegals BILLIONS,”Capable of doing my own research” You Say…It is incredibly obvious that YOU ARE NOT

  • George E. LeFebvre

    Where did you get the idea that Obama is a nice guy? There is nothing nice about him. He’s a muslim bent on destruction of this country.

  • wildbill

    Nice Post, and Remember ,hadit “is capable of doing his own research”….Idiots Abound

  • wildbill

    Under barrycare,reid would be labeled DNR…Could’nt be soon enough

  • wildbill

    harry reid

  • wildbill

    42 BILLION to ILLEGALS…Does that have an effect on 95% of U.S. CITIZENS?? Mr.”I Do MY OWN Research” You ARE a Sorry AZZ

  • SixSixSix

    Harry Reid quoted Stalin favorably. In public. And Ted Cruz is not a foreign national. Don’t you people ever check your facts?

  • peter

    hadit, i hope you know you an idiot!!

  • Lady Patriot

    It is very hard for me to understand the ULTRA liberal views of some of the bloggers here. Do they want to be told if, when, where and who they may or may not receive their medical treatment from? Do they want the government to tell US when, where, and how we can behave, live, or die? I am just astounded at how many want more and more government take over of their lives. But then, if they are of or support “the nanny state/ entitlement program regime, why not? After all, WE the tax payer pay for their well fare,schooling, health care, food, ACCESS card charges, free cell phones, etc. etc. etc. ALL government programs and salaries (the president, his cooks, the power hungry Congress, and all the other financial agencies and programs of THE government are on the backs of those who do or have worked all their lives, tried to live decent lives, spoke American and loved this country.
    If WE allow this Administration and the liberals to take over OUR health care, OUR banking, OUR industries, OUR military, and every other aspect of OUR lives WE will be living under communist rule and REGULATIONS with a dictator in OUR House..

  • MyGiftMySon2010

    appear…. does not mean he is a nice guy…

  • alanstorm

    You appear to be a complete idiot. What about people who have been fired to get the company below 50 employees, or who are now working less than 30 hours a week, or who have had their policies cancelled and now must pay more? That’s no effect?

    Your naivete would be touching if it weren’t dangerous.

  • alanstorm

    “They do get subsidies but that is an option any employer may provide.”

    Wrong. They get paid too much too get subsidies, according to O-care.

  • alanstorm

    And why should Congress NOT be forced to live under the laws they pass for everyone else?

    Please defend this idea. I’ll get popcorn.

  • SixSixSix

    Read again, they are. Everyone is. Congress and the President UNIQUELY lost employer coverage. They have to head for the exchanges or one of the many other ways to buy insurance including directly from the insurance company or via brokers.

  • SixSixSix

    Gees, learn to read a word in context. They do not qualify for government subsidies but any employer can pay an employer subsidy if they so wish.

  • Nuklhed

    I can’t wait for ObamaCar, universal car insurance for everyone. ObamaElectric, universal coverage for electrical bills. ObamaGas, universal coverage for gas bills. ObamaLife, universal coverage for life insurance. ObamaGroceries, universal grocery benefits for everyone. ObamaTP, universal toilet paper for all the $#!T we keep allowing our uber-liberal friends to pile on the American people. When will it stop???

  • bbeans

    I have been saying that all along!