POLITICS

Barney Frank hints: Beat Romney to get single-payer health care [Updated with Frank interview]

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Politics Digest

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., indicated in a fundraising email that the 2012 election is unusually important because of the opportunity it presents to implement and expand Obamacare.

“Winning a Democratic majority in the House, along with maintaining a Democratic Senate and re-electing President Obama, are absolutely essential to continuing the significant advances that we began in 2009 and which were later blocked by the arrival of the Tea Party,” Frank said in a fundraising email for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today (original emphasis).

The legislative sessions of 2009 were dominated by the Democratic push for Obamacare. In 2010, of course, the Tea Party created an anti-Obamacare wave election for Republicans, especially in the House.

What might “continuing the significant advances” of 2009 look like, in Frank’s imagination? “I’m for single payer,” Frank said in 2009, arguing that Medicare had proven the effectiveness of government-run health care. “I will accept as second best a very good public option which, by the way, when the conservatives say will lead to a total public plan, they are conceding our point, namely that people will find that there is a better level of care.”

Later in the Obamacare debate, Frank again said that he wanted a public option in order to get to single-payer health care. “I think that if we get a good public option it could lead to single payer and that is the best way to reach single payer,” he explained.

The Washington Examiner contacted Frank’s office to find out how he thinks the outcome of this election affects the possibility of getting a single-payer health care system implemented in the United States. [Updated  with his remarks.]

“The letter was not simply about health care,” Frank told The Washington Examiner. “For me, financial reform obviously was the thing that I worked on the hardest’ and also getting rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;’ DOMA; an Employment Non-Discrimination Act, there’s more to do on — we’re getting closer to getting getting full legal equality for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people, we’re not there yet; so I meant all of those things.”

Frank does think that the health care system could move more towards single-payer if Obama is reelected. “In the first couple years what you would see would be consolidation of the administration — and particularly financial reform and health care,” he said to The Washington Examiner.  “With regard to health care, I think that once people see that it is to their benefit we could go beyond that to extend the reach . . . Ultimately, I believe the Medicare system works best and I would be for a national — for everybody using Medicare. And I think people might be supportive after seeing how [Obamacare] works.”

He also said that, “at the very least,” Medicare should be expanded to include more people.

Frank’s fundraising email:

Friend –

When a politician says that an election is the most important ever, it’s almost always because he or she is a candidate. So the fact that for the first time in 40 years I won’t be on a ballot should give me extra credibility.

Winning a Democratic majority in the House, along with maintaining a Democratic Senate and re-electing President Obama, are absolutely essential to continuing the significant advances that we began in 2009 and which were later blocked by the arrival of the Tea Party.

Ousting the Tea Party and wresting control of the House away from the Republican Party is the single most important step we can take to restore civility – and sanity – to the American political system.

Please join me in doing as much as you can to support Democratic candidates during these critical final days of the election.

Thank you,

Barney Frank

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