POLITICS
05/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John Shadegg Briefly Excites Health Care Reform Proponents, For No Reason

Yesterday, during an interview with MSNBC's David Shuster, baby-carrying Senator Representative John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) seemingly shocked the world by coming out in favor of a single-payer health care system.

Big, crazy news, right? Except, I don't know? When you examine Shadegg's remarks more closely, I'm not sure that he knows what "single-payer" means. And what he seems to favor, isn't really news at all.

Let's go to the videotape:

From TPM:

"The reality is, this bill is going to reward for-profit insurance companies that have done a disservice," Shadegg said. "This bill is going to give them exactly what they wanted. The insurance industry, the for-profit insurance industry, wanted an individual mandate and that's what they're getting out of this bill. The for-profit insurance industry did not want a public option because they don't like competition and guess what? They're getting that."

When Shuster accused Republicans of supporting insurers, Shadegg balked.

"No we don't! You guys keep saying that, but I'm not the guy pushing the bill that says we should compel people to buy insurance from the for-profit guys. That's the Democrats," he said.

Then, after some back and forth with Shuster: "I would support single-payer."

"You would support a government-run medical system?" Shuster asked.

"Absolutely," Shadegg said. "I would support forcing American insurance companies to compete. Right now they have a monopoly."

He also said that the best way to pay for those with pre-existing conditions is to "spread their costs among the healthy, among the taxpayers."

Emphasis mine, because what Shadegg is describing is not single-payer. Per Sarabeth at 1115.org:

Now that's a slightly confusing statement there at the end. Under a single-payer system, all healthcare would be provided by the government. If you will, we would all be covered by Medicare. There would be no private insurance companies competing for our business.

Right. What he calls "single-payer" sounds suspiciously public optiony to me! And as it turns out, Shadegg's office later clarified this:

"Congressman Shadegg believes health insurance companies should have to compete for our business as individual consumers," she said. "Forcing them to compete, even through a public option, would be better than an individual mandate which will not work."

So, no single-payer, but this is still big news, right? Sure! At least it was two months ago, when Mike Stark reported it!

SHADEGG: Well, you could better defend a public option than you could defend compelling me to buy a product from the people that have created the problem. America's health insurance industry has wanted this bill and the individual mandate from the get go. That's their idea. Their idea is "look, our product is so lousy, that lots of people don't buy it. So we need the government to force people to buy our product. And stunningly, that's what the Congress appears to be going along with. Why would they do that?

STARK: Congressman, you're making the progressive case here.

SHADEGG: I'm with the progressives on this one! The notion ... I mean, I completely agree with my progressive friends here. The notion of forcing Americans to buy a product they don't want to buy from companies that aren't doing it right right now is goofy.

So, woo! John Shadegg said something he didn't mean, about a health care provision he's already said he kind of supports, but won't vote for, not ever. Great catch, everyone! We'll be chewing over the significance of this for tens of minutes!

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