PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network, coming to you from our studio in Washington, DC. The health-care debate about American health-care reform is fast and furious in Washington these days. We're told single-payer health-care plan is off the table. I can't quite figure what's on the table. So to help us figure it out, I'm joined by Roger Hickey. Is the co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, an advocacy group promoting progressive economic change. Thanks for joining us. ROGER HICKEY, CO-DIRECTOR, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE: Good to be here. JAY: So, as I said, in the last couple of weeks there've been hearings, Senator Baucus's hearings, and single-payer people were not at the table. And we all saw the commotion as people tried to say, "Let us in." Before we get into what's on the table, what do you make of what happened at hearings? Why weren't people who promoted single payer allowed at the table? HICKEY: Well, it's clear that in the United States Senate, at least, the Democrats have decided that reform is not going to take the shape of single-payer. And I thought it was a bad move to exclude testimony from advocates of single-payer. You could've had them on without taking them seriously. But it was quite remarkable that the single-payer advocates, in a very dignified way, pointed out with their bodies how the debate has ignored them. JAY: It seems rather strange, especially when President Obama has said on many occasions, including just a few days ago at this town hall in New Mexico, that if we were starting from scratch, he says, single-payer is a better plan. But we know every country that has single-payer, nobody ever started from scratch; it had to be introduced within a market system and then introduced. So this "starting from scratch" argument doesn't make much sense to me. So why not at least have it there for everyone to see? HICKEY: Listen, I believe that the Congress and the president should be talking about single-payer as one of the options. And I'm not responsible for what they're doing right now. It's the limits of what everybody but Bernie Sanders, who's the one socialist in the Senate, is willing to listen to and advocate at this point. JAY: [inaudible] there's support in Congress. There's a bill. There's something like 40 representatives have signed on to it. And public opinion seems to be in favor of it. So the argument we're hearing against single-payer even being discussed, really, is that it's not politically feasible, which really comes down to the Senate, doesn't it? It's not about American public opinion; it's about what can they get through the Senate. So what are we being told? A system, single-payer, might be better. But the Senate is either too wedded to what they are calling it free-market model, or bought, or too influenced by insurance companies, and that's why we can't go there. And so we have to go another way. HICKEY: It's clear that the American political system right now is not going to deal with single-payer. And it's not just the Senate, although that's the worst situation. There's a group of members of the House of Representatives who are supportive of single-payer, but they're a small minority. And everybody knows that when the deals get done and the bills get written, there is not going to be a pure single-payer bill on the table, or it will be on the table but off to the [inaudible] JAY: Okay. So you're in the midst of all this. HICKEY: Yeah. JAY: So what is on the table? I can't figure it out. I listen to president candidate Obama, who said there's a federal health-care plan, and you're going to be able to join the federal health-care plan just like I do, and we'll compete with the private insurance companies, which to my mind seems like a reasonable proposition, if everybody can join it as they choose. But is that actually still on the table? Because you start to dig into what Baucus is proposing, and it actually doesn't seem like that is on the table [inaudible] The Real News Network - Is public health care "off the table"?