Single Payer vs. Public Option

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Single Payer Action

Single Payer vs. Public Option

Nick Skala was in a bit of shock.

In early June, he was invited to speak before the Progressive Caucus of the House of Representatives about single payer health care.

There are about 71 members of the House who belong to the Progressive Caucus — about a third of the Democratic Caucus.

Skala is a true believer in single payer — having spent four years with Physicians for a National Health Program.

So, yes of course, he would love to speak before the Progressive Caucus to explain why single payer was the only way to control costs and cover everyone.

And that Obama’s public option was bound to fail.

He sent his presentation ahead of time to Bill Goold, the executive director of the Progressive Caucus, and Darcy Burner, executive director of the American Progressive Caucus Foundation.

Both were not pleased with Skala.

“Bill Gould emailed me after reading my testimony and materials I was going to present to tell me that they were not acceptable and that there could be no comparison between single payer and the public option with side by side comparison,” Skala told Single Payer Action. “Darcy Burner told me that they would construe talking about the public option  — even comparing it to single payer — as an attack on the members of the Progressive Caucus.”

“Now, I can’t see how honest discourse about whether or not a public option will work — especially when it comes from 16,000 doctors and the majority of nurses — as an attack on anybody who supports it. We see it as telling the truth.”

Despite Goold’s and Burner’s objections, on June 4, Skala went ahead and made his presentation to the caucus.

“During the presentation it was very nasty,” Skala said. “I got some very dirty looks from Darcy Burner. During the question period and once during the testimony, I was interrupted, told that the Progressive Caucus had taken a position on this issue and unless I had something positive to contribute, then there wasn’t really much point to answering my questions. At least one of my questions to the staff of the Chairman of the caucus was interrupted by the staff of the Congressional Progressive Caucus unfortunately.”

And what exactly was Skala’s crime?

He believes the public option being pushed by Obama and the Democrats will fail.

“The public option preserves all the systemic deficiencies that we see in the current system,” Skala said. “It maintains a finance system that is based on private insurance and private insurers and their drive to fight claims, issue denials, screen out the sick and make a big profit generate tremendous administrative waste — 400 billion dollars a year.”

“Now you can expand coverage by just raising taxes and paying insurers to cover people but that’s not a sustainable system,” Skala said. “But it won’t cover every body and it will fall apart quickly due to rising cost as we’ve seen in Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, Tennessee and Minnesota — state after state after state and it hasn’t worked.”

“Now the definition of insanity is to repeat what has gone on in the past and expect a different result. Yet that’s what we’re doing with the public option. And as a representative of physicians in that capacity, and certainly the relationship I have with nurses and patients, I feel it’s my duty to be honest about the best policy research, the best literature, and the best experience that we have and that all indicates that the public option is going to fail.”

The complete interview with Nick Skala, see video here or below:


Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.  He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

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