By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 9/30/2009 12:23:07 PM ET 2009-09-30T16:23:07

Claim: Progressives support a public plan, but their goal is a single-payer government health care system.  

Congress has been debating whether to set up a government-run insurance program which would resemble the Medicare plan for Americans age 65 and over. Republicans contend that what Democrats really want is a system in which all Americans’ medical costs are paid by the federal government. Is the public option a means to an end, or an end in itself?

Fact or fiction?
A bit of both. Some public plan advocates such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D- W.V., dismiss charges that a public plan is a "Trojan horse" for a single-payer system. Other progressives have said they prefer a single-payer system. "People want a public option," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. said last month. But he added, "Long-term, the only real solution in terms of providing comprehensive universal cost-effective health care is a single-payer system." He would give states the option to adopt a single-payer plan which, he said, would curb excess administrative costs. Yale professor Jacob Hacker, whose insurance reform ideas serve as the partial basis for Democrats' proposals, said last year "we’re going to get there (to a single-payer system), over time, slowly. We will move away from reliance on employment-based health insurance, as we should."

Send us a health care claim you'd like to investigate — and check back for your daily dose of reality. E-mail us at, submit your question on Newsvine or tweet @msnbc_health using the tag #doseofreality.

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments