Sen. Martinez Proclaims Support For Health Care ‘Choices,’ But Opposes Public Option

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the past month, ThinkProgress has traveled to town hall events across the country to report what we’re seeing on the ground. This is our sixth eyewitness report.

This past Tuesday, ThinkProgress attended a closed-door health care forum at Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, FL, where Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Mel Martinez (R-FL) expressed their opposition to President Obama’s health reform agenda.

During the event, Martinez defended the bloated and inefficient Medicare Advantage program, which the Obama administration has said that it would like to reform by subjecting it to a competitive bidding process. “I always voted to support Medicare Advantage, even though I got accused of doing it for the benefit of Big Insurance,” Martinez said.

Martinez then explained that the reason he wants to maintain Medicare Advantage — which “pays insurance companies a hefty premium to enroll senior citizens and provide their medical services through managed-care networks” — is because he wants more health care choices for the American public:


This is about people having choices. And I think that’s the thing we have to talk about when we talk about health care reform — maintain for people the ability to have choices. Not just to go to a single payer. Not just to go to a government option. But to have options in their lives of how they can choose to get their health care.

Watch it:

Of course, Martinez’s response is incoherent. On the one hand, he proclaims support for people to have “the ability to have choices.” But at the same time, he maintains that one of those choices should never be a public health insurance plan.


Markos highlights polling numbers that demonstrate continuing strong support for the public option.


,Teamsters President James Hoffa told Bloomberg News that the public option is not a vital part of health reform.