One key player was Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America's Future. Hickey took UC Berkley health care expert Jacob Hacker's idea for "a new public insurance pool modeled after Medicare" and went around to the community of single-payer advocates, making the case that this limited "public option" was the best they could hope for. Ideally, it would someday magically turn into single-payer. And then Hickey went to all the presidential candidates, acknowledging that politically, they couldn't support single-payer, but that the "public option" would attract a real progressive constituency. Here's Hickey from a speech to New Jersey Citizen Action in November 2007:
The good news is that people are ready for big change. But the hard reality, from the point of view of all of us who understand the efficiency and simplicity of a single-payer system, is that our pollsters unanimously tell us that large numbers of Americans are not willing to give up the good private insurance they now have in order to be put into one big health plan run by the government.
Pollster Celinda Lake looked at public backing for a single-payer plan - and then compared it with an approach that offers a choice between highly regulated private insurance and a public plan like Medicare. This alternative, called "guaranteed choice" wins 64 percent support to 22 percent for single-payer. And even the hard core progressive part of the population, which Celinda calls the "health justice" constituency, favors "guaranteed choice" over single-payer.
Once Hickey sold the idea to candidate John Edwards, he was off to the races. It wasn't long before almost every Democrat lined up in support of the 'public option.' And many liberals have been willing to admit that it's because this is the best way to get to single-payer care. John Edwards even explained how it would work during a 2007 Democratic candidates' forum:
Democrats have for years been embracing the public option and explaining that it will lead to single-payer care. This has been its central appeal. And now - despite the ample evidence on the public record - they claim it would be simply one more option? Why won't they just be honest? Lies aren't working, anyway.
Video from Verum Serum
Also see the Morning Bell.
Cross-posted to theconservatives.com