Max Baucus, the former Democratic senator from Montana and key legislator behind Obamacare, said it's time for the U.S. to consider a government-run, single-payer healthcare system.
"My personal view is we've got to start looking at single-payer," Baucus said Thursday night at Montana State University, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. "I think we should have hearings. ... We're getting there. It's going to happen."
Eight years ago, Baucus, now 75, was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, when he said the U.S. wasn't prepared to pass a bill for a single-payer system like in Canada. He also was instrumental in rejecting the public option from Obamacare, which would have offered a government-run healthcare plan for people to buy into as an alternative to private health insurance sold on the exchanges.
Baucus said at the time that there was "a lot to like" about a public option, but that he didn't believe it would be able to gain the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster.
Single-payer proponents criticized the omission, and some have drawn attention to the fact that one of the aides whom Baucus often credited with writing the law, Elizabeth Fowler, had previously worked for the health insurance industry. She later joined the drug industry after she helped oversee the law's implementation for the White House.
Baucus retired when his term ended in 2014.
A single-payer system can involve healthcare coverage that is paid for by the government or can be in conjunction with private health insurance companies, as Medicare Advantage has done or the way some states contract with private insurance companies for Medicaid managed care.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he plans to introduce a "Medicare for All" bill on Wednesday, which has been backed by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, both rumored to be 2020 presidential contenders.
An analysis of an earlier version Sanders introduced, from the left-leaning Urban Institute, projected that such a system would cost more than $32 trillion over a decade.