Harkin: O-Care Should Have Been Single-Payer But ‘We Blew It’

Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety member Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, questions witnesses, during a Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing on "Coal Miners' Struggle for Justic... Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety member Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, questions witnesses, during a Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing on "Coal Miners' Struggle for Justice: How Unethical Legal and Medical Practices Stack the Deck Against Black Lung Claimants" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Robert Bailey, 61, a retired coal miner from Princeton, W.Va., who suffers from black lung disease has urged Congress to help clear a backlog of claims of fellow miners who have the disease. (AP Photo) MORE LESS
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Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who helped oversee the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, lamented in a recent interview that the law had become compromised amid the political turmoil that surrounded its passage.

He also expressed regret that the law didn’t include liberal policies like a single-payer health care system or a public health insurance plan, as many had hoped it would in the early stages.

“We had the votes in ’09. We had a huge majority in the House, we had 60 votes in the Senate,” Harkin told The Hill, saying that the first Congress of President Barack Obama’s administration should have passed “single-payer right from the get go or at least put a public option (which) would have simplified a lot.”

“We had the votes to do that and we blew it,” he said. He decried that the law as it exists is “really complicated” and benefits the insurance companies, though he praised its prevention health funding.

“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified health care, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,” Harkin told The Hill. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.

The latter comment reflects those made recently by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who said that health care reform “should have come later” after Democrats took control of Congress and the White House in 2009.

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  1. You had the votes in 09 for single payer health care?

    Really?

    You had Joe Lieberman, Arlen Specter, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, and Max Baucus on board for a single-payer health care bill?

    I don’t believe you. Those people wouldn’t even go along with a Medicare expansion, but they were going to vote for single-payer health care?

  2. Captain Unhelpful rides again…

  3. Avatar for mantan mantan says:

    Another world or a wide stance?

  4. And those comments don’t “reflect” what Chuck Schumer said at all. They are the polar opposite of what Chuck Schumer said.

    Schumer’s argument is that the Democrats shouldn’t have done health care. Harkin argues they should have gone even bigger on health care.

  5. This may be why Max Baucus is the most expensive American in its history. He was the perfect target for capture, simply aligning with the insurers, allowing $1.2 trillion a year in free-riding to continue and tossing overboard the obvious (at least to any other advanced economy) solution of universal coverage and issuing everybody a chipcard.

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