Would Clinton sign a single-payer bill?

Posted by Marcella Bombardieri
Political Reporter
February 6, 2008

NEW YORK -- On a day that's all about the horserace, we bring you an interesting tidbit about policy, specifically, health care, which has been one of the biggest issues in the Democratic race.

Both Democrats offer relatively moderate health care proposals that would give Americans choices about where to get their insurance. Hillary Clinton learned the hard way in the early 1990s that many Americans are squeamish about the idea of giving up choice to the government.

A "single-payer" plan, basically where the government runs health insurance, is usually considered politically untenable. In fact, at the South Carolina debate a couple weeks ago, Clinton charged Barack Obama with being inconsistent on, among other things, health care – by having flipflopped on single-payer. Obama denied having supported it, but in a 2003 speech, he said, "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program."

But perhaps, in a different world, would Clinton agree?

In New Haven on Monday, a fourth-year Yale medical student named Liza Goldman approached us excitedly to report on a conversation she had with the New York Senator on the rope line.

According to Goldman, she told Clinton, "I'm sure you know that single-payer would save billions of dollars and thousands of lives."

Clinton, Goldman says, responded in agreement but said, "It's not politically feasible."

So Goldman offered her a hypothetical: "Would you sign it if it came across your desk?"

"She said yes, and shook my hand," Goldman said.

A Clinton spokesman did not get back to us about whether Clinton remembers the conversation the same way.

Note from PNHP - Liza Goldman is the daughter of Dr. Sarah Huertas-Goldman, chair of PNHP's Puerto Rico chapter.