Lieberman: ‘Public Option’ Health Proposal a Bad Idea

By Nicholas Ballasy | June 23, 2009 | 8:48 PM EDT

( - In a speech to the American Medical Association, President Barack Obama said that a single-payer health care system works "pretty well" in some countries. Several Republican senators who spoke with disagreed with that view, while Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) did not take a position.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), however, said that a new government-run health care program is a bad idea and an expensive one.
“I mean, obviously, that was the president’s statement, so I don’t know which countries he had in mind,” Lieberman told  “But I’m not in favor of a public plan option in the health care plan this year for a couple of reasons. We’ve got two great public programs, government health care insurance programs: Medicare and Medicaid.”
Lieberman continued: “We are at a time when the federal deficit is going out of sight. I don’t think we want to start another government program that is going to end up costing the taxpayers a lot of money. Besides, there’s a lot of competition in insurance now and people therefore can benefit from it without us getting into another government-run health program.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) told “I don’t think I agree -- I don’t agree [with the president].” “I don’t believe they [single-payer systems] work very well at all. I think it would result in a diminishing of the quality of care in America and it would just create a more powerful government, so I’m very dubious of that.”

“I do think some reforms are necessary and I believe we can make those, and I don’t think there’s enough really vibrant competition in the marketplace in health care today,” said Sessions. “That could help a lot, so I would be troubled by that comment. I’m not sure what he [Obama] said in the total context but I would be troubled by that.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) echoed Sessions’ comments.
“I would not want to see us move into a single-payer system,” Corker told  “I don’t think -- I share -- and most Americans feel exactly the same way. No, I think that’s the wrong way to go. I think they’re in a losing fight as it relates to that.”
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) seemed hesitant to take a position on the president’s remarks.
“Well, I think we have to look at the entire gambit of what we are doing here,” said Webb. “It’s kind of all over the board right now and our staff is examining every different aspect of this. So, you know, we are working to try and help bring a different kind of policy together, and that’s about the only thing to be said right now.”