President Accepts That Only Single Payer Can Provide Universal Coverage


In yesterday’s press conference, President Obama was asked to what extent the Democrats’ health care reform proposal would expand coverage.  In reply, the President admitted that the proposal would not cover everyone and that the only way to do so would be with a single payer system.

Universal coverage is a key element of the human right to health and the President’s comment demonstrates both his recognition that his own plan will not fulfill the requirements of that right and that a single payer system would do this much more effectively.  This further reinforces the disappointment and anger of campaigners that a combination of unfortunate political calculations and a lack of political will on the part of the Democrats has kept single payer off the table in the health care debate.

The President himself accepts that only a single payer system can take us closer to realizing the right to health care for all people in America. It’s a shame then that he has not used his power and popularity to push for true universality in American health care.


Below is the relevant excerpt from the transcript:

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. We were just talking in that question about — about reducing health care inflation, reducing costs. Can you explain how you’re going to expand coverage? Is it fair to say — is this bill going to cover all 47 million Americans that are uninsured? Or is this going to be something — is it going to take a mandate? Or is this something that isn’t — your bill is probably not going to get it all the way there? And if it’s not going to get all the way there, can you say, how far is enough? You know, “OK, 20 million more, I can sign that; 10 million more, I can’t?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that, unless you have a — what’s called a single-payer system, in which everybody is automatically covered, then you’re probably not going to reach every single individual because there’s always going to be somebody out there who thinks they’re indestructible and doesn’t want to get health care, doesn’t bother getting health care, and then, unfortunately, when they get hit by a bus, end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.