The Spectacle Blog

Obama’s Road to Socialized Medicine

By on 8.18.08 | 6:12PM

In my health care article for our July/August issue, I note that while it isn't accurate to say that Barack Obama's health care plan is socialized medicine, it's true that if implemented it would lead to a socialized system over time.

At a campaign event today in Albuquerque/>, New Mexico/>/>, asked if he would support a single-payer health care system (which is a socialized system in which the government is the sole purchase of health care), Obama essentially conceded that the ultimate goal was single-payer:

Well, I’ve said this before. If I were designing a system from scratch, then I'd probably set up a single-payer system…. But the problem is we're not starting from scratch...You've got a whole system of institutions that have been set up. Making that transition in a rapid way I think would be very difficult. And people don't have time to wait. They need relief now. So my attitude is let's build up the system we got, let's make it more efficient, we may be over time -- as we make the system more efficient and everybody's cover -- decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.

Video here.

The key here is that Obama's health care plan is rigged so that the only conclusion people will reach over time is that we have to go to a single-payer system. For instance, his plan would require insurers to accept anybody who applies for coverage. This will mean a mass exodus of healthy people from the market, because they know they can now save premiums by simply waiting until they get sick to apply for coverage. Therefore, the private market would collapse – something we've already seen in states that have implemented so-called "guaranteed issue" plans. Meanwhile, Obama's plan includes a new government-run option modeled after Medicare. So, over time, Obama's hope is that he can simultaneously build up the government-run part of the system while destroying the private market. It's been pretty obvious to anybody who closely examined the issue, but Obama telegraphed his intentions today.

Also, ever since the primaries, Obama has denied ever being a proponent of a single-payer system, arguing only that he had supported one theoretically, if we were "starting from scratch."

But here's what he actually said in 2003 (video here):

I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America/>/>, the wealthiest country in the history of the world…cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. … A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. … [A]s all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, we have to take back the House."

Since then, Democrats have taken back the House and Senate. The presidency is the only thing now standing in the way of Obama's long-term plan to bring socialized medicine to America/>/>.

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