Single-Payer Option Will Live On As 'Political Point,' Progressive Leader Says

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said Thursday that the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care law means progressive lawmakers won't be pushing for a single-payer option anymore, though the concept will live on in their minds.

The idea of a single-payer option, such as a Medicare-for-all approach to health care, will continue to be "a fundamental political point that we all support," said Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "But the reality of what just happened today probably puts the emphasis on making the law work as opposed to trying to get a new plan."

In the days leading up to the Supreme Court vote, House progressives were starting to get giddy about the idea of putting a single-payer option back on the table -- they even have a bill ready to go -- in the event the court struck down some or all of the health care law. They fought hard for that approach to health care reform when Congress debated the issue in 2009. They ultimately didn't have the support from party leadership to make that happen, however, so they dropped the idea in order to pass the president's plan, on the reasoning that some reform was better than none at all.

Grijalva said there are plenty of opportunities for progressives to push for aspects of a single-payer option as the government continues rolling out the now constitutionally reinforced health care law.

"The efforts to lower the age on Medicare are going to continue as a step toward that. The expansion of Medicaid is going to be huge," he told The Huffington Post. "There are essentially three large public programs that are going to be the responsible parties in making this health care reform work."

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