I replied that he'd used right wing talking points-- that single payer works like medicare, with private doctors and hospitals, and that studies have shown that single payer would cost less than the Obama plan. I asked him to take the advice Howard Dean gave me at netroots nation the previous weekend, and have the congressionial budget office (CBO) do a study to compare costs. He said he would.
I wrote in my article, that as a loyal supporter, "I felt a bit used, as an example of a liberal he doesn't agree with."
It was a nice surprise to get a call from Patrick at 9:00 AM sharp, Monday morning. First, he complimented me on the article, which he'd read. Then he confirmed that he'd request the study, as he'd stated at the town hall. Then we talked a bit about our relationship, expressing concern about my feeling used, reminding me that he said it with a smile, touching my shoulder in a friendly way, which was true.
I pointed out how and why I felt used and I think he got it.
I have pretty thick skin and am not holding grudges. I did tell him again, that his response on single payer was wrong and sounded like a right wing talking point-- the same kind of response that Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter had recently given at town halls or press conferences.
I also know, from other health reform activists who Patrick has met with that they've told him about single payer and he should know better. That gets back to my theory that he's been talking to, or at least listening to and coming to conclusions more base on the input of the anti-reform lobbyists than he is based on the input he's received from single payer people.
Let me be clear, Patrick made it clear, at the town hall meeting, that he was standing for reform, but with the bluedog caveat that it be budget neutral. That can be a sticky wicket. One colleague, Walt Tsou pointed out that the CBO only looks at some of the expenses and savings, so it could end up showing single payer to cost more than a study that included savings at the state level. It's not surprising. To get a bit wonky, statistics can be abused in infinite ways. Dr. Tsou told me that it would be better to have the GAO do the study.
The fact is, legislators can cherry pick studies that support the position they choose to take. The GOP congressfolk have been citing a study funded by health insurers, for example.
The good news is that
Congressman Murphy also asked me to send him the studies I'd referred to that showed that single payer saved money. I know of several, listed below and already, since I've put the word out, I've heard of more. I'd like to crowdsource this. If you know of a study that supports the cost effectiveness of single payer or the public option, please add a comment with a link.
Bottom-line, Patrick Murphy knew the 1000+ page house health bill well. He responded to constituents on both sides with intelligent, principled answers, for the most part. He did fail though, on single payer. He needs to either do his homework more or take a clearer look at the data and the facts. He has leaders in the PA single payer movement in his county , Bucks, like Chuck Pennacchio, and he should use them to become a national expert on it so it is not necessary to chastise him for using GOP talking points.
I told Patrick he's made some good votes I'd appreciated and he's, overall a good guy in the big picture, but that it's my job, as an activist, to keep pushing. He agreed about the pushing and good naturedly ended the conversation encouraging me to get him the information we discussed.
2005 study by National Coalition on Health Care
1991 GAO Study: Canadian Health Insurance; lessons for the United States
I know there are more and hope readers will link to them in comments.