A former senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has expressed support for single-payer healthcare, but that idea continues to have its critics.
During a speech last week at Montana State University, former Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) said his personal view is that America needs to start looking at single payer. "I think we should have hearings," he added. "We're getting there. It's going to happen."
Baucus joins a list of Democrats in favor of a healthcare system run and paid for by the government. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has been pushing the idea of a single-payer plan, one he calls "Medicare for All." But what makes Baucus' support significant is the fact that he opposed single payer in the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, during which time he was the Senate Finance Committee chairman – and he even voted against language that would have created a public option or government-backed insurance plan to compete against private plans.
Pelosi not backing Bernie's plan
While former Senator Max Baucus now favors single payer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declines to endorse Sanders' plan. The liberal California Democrat says that while she has long supported the idea the bill captures – i.e., of everybody getting health coverage – "Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act."
Pelosi also disputes the idea that the "Medicare for All" plan has become a litmus test for Democrats, forcing them to prove their ideological purity by getting onboard.
But that was 2009 – and Baucus told NBC News on Friday that at that time "we were not ready to address it [single payer]."
Even so, Dr. Roger Stark, a retired physician working for the Washington Policy Center, says a single-payer system discourages innovation.
"Canada has had a single-payer healthcare system for over 30 years," Stark points out in a new paper on single payer. "Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in Canada and now represent the largest expense for every province's budget."
Canada's single-payer system does have its problems, says Canadian healthcare broker Rick Baker. He helps people in his country get healthcare in the U.S., so as to avoid waiting for weeks if not months for surgery.
In an earlier interview with OneNewsNow, he explained: "When ObamaCare was first proposed and before it had been passed into law, the Republican national healthcare committee held hearings in the Capitol in Washington and I spoke to them telling them how disastrous it would be if the U.S. followed the Canadian model that simply does not work."
American health economist Devon Herrick also has concerns about cost and quality of care.
"We all can agree that our current system is too bureaucratic. It's cumbersome and we'd all love to make it more administratively simple, but the math just doesn't work out," says Herrick, co-author of Lives At Risk: Single-Payer National Health Insurance Around The World. "It actually would cost more than our current system."