Is "Single Payer" a dirty word?

Steve Buckstein

When Sally C. Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco gave invited testimony* before the House Health Care Committee last Wednesday, she briefly commented on the major health care reform bills before the legislature. She noted that all of them had the potential to devolve into a single payer system like the one she is so critical of in her native Canada.

Committee member Rep. Ben Cannon challenged Ms. Pipes, arguing that since none of the bills actually mentioned “single payer” that she might want to be more careful with her use of language. She responded by reiterating that whether or not they actually contained those words, their flawed approaches to health care reform could inevitably lead to a single payer system.

The very fact that a legislator seemed so concerned with keeping “single payer” out of the discussion may mean that those in favor of such a system have concluded that the public won’t go for it. Good news, if it’s true.

*Listen to the entire hearing. Ms. Pipes testimony occupies the first 23 minutes, then two state workers testify, then Ms. Pipes and the state workers answer questions beginning at 34:30 into the hearing. This portion of the hearing ends at 59:00 into the two hour session.

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