The Slatest

Max Baucus, the Guy Who Killed Obamacare’s Public Option, Now Supports Single-Payer

Barack Obama with then-Montana Sen. Max Baucus and then-Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd at the White House on June 22, 2009.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

If the name “Max Baucus” rings a bell to you and you’re not a political junkie or Montana resident, it’s probably because he is the gentleman who, as the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was responsible for making sure the Affordable Care Act did not include a “public option,” which would have allowed Americans to obtain health coverage directly from the government rather than private insurers. Progressives did not like him.

Here’s what the now-retired Baucus said a Montana State University event on Thursday, per the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:


“My personal view is we’ve got to start looking at single-payer,” Baucus said Thursday night at Montana State University. “I think we should have hearings…. We’re getting there. It’s going to happen.”


Not just a public option, but total single payer, aka government-funded universal coverage.

So, when Max Baucus was a senator surrounded by health-care industry lobbyists and donors, he insisted that the ideal health care system was one that involved private insurance companies making huge profits. But now that he’s just a guy, he says that public funding is just simple common sense.

Back then, Baucus said, he felt adamantly that Congress wouldn’t pass a government-run system like Canada’s. So it was the one alternative he refused to put “on the table” for consideration. But you can see the difference, Baucus said, when you visit hospitals on either side of the border. In Montana, half a rural hospital will be dedicated to processing medical insurance claims. In Canada, he said, just one small room is needed to verify that patients are residents.

I’ll be damned.