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Townhaller Schools MSNBC Host on Obama's Single Payer Quote

Average American citizen Katy Abram's impassioned plea against socialized health care, at Senator Arlen Specter's town hall meeting on Tuesday, got her noticed by the "Hardball" producers as her clip was featured on Tuesday's show and she even received an invitation to appear tonight - complete with the requisite scolding from the program's liberal host. Subbing for Chris Matthews, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell incorrectly challenged Abram's fear that Barack Obama wanted to move to a single-payer plan.

After Abram recalled that, "I heard him say on a quote, on television, that...we will move to a single-payer" plan, O'Donnell rebuked "He never said that." When Abram again insisted that she "Heard it on TV," O'Donnell adamantly asserted, "The President of the United States has never said that." It turns out Abram knew her facts better than the cable news host, as Obama as recently as last year declared: "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system," And, as Red State noted, in 2003 Obama told a crowd of AFL-CIO members: "I happen to be a proponent of single-payer, universal health care coverage."

The following exchange was aired on the August 12, edition of Hardball:

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Do you have health, do you and your family have health insurance.

KATY ABRAM: Yeah we do have health insurance. We have a health savings account that we pay for ourselves. We have a $5000 plus deductible that basically, in the course of a normal year we will pay for all our medical, medical needs out of pocket. Doctor's visits. And this year has been a little more difficult because my son's had surgery and it looks like we're looking for, at a second one. We are almost at our deductible so that's a good thing. But that was a choice we made, that's what we wanted to do and I want to be able to keep that choice. I don't want to be forced or slowly coaxed into a single-payer system. I want to have my choice.

O'DONNELL: Well do you believe the President when he says, if you like the health care plan, as you say you do, you can keep that health care plan? Is that something, when you hear it, you simply don't believe it?

ABRAM: I don't believe it because I heard him say on a quote, on television, that, you know, it may take 5 or 10 years but we will move to a single-payer health, or single-payer-

O'DONNELL: He, Katy, he's never said that. He has never said we will move to a single-payer plan.

ABRAM: I heard, I heard it on TV. I heard it on TV. I heard him saying it.

O'DONNELL: The President of the United States. Katy, the President of the United States has never said it.

ABRAM: This was a couple years-

O'DONNELL: Oh it was a few years ago?

ABRAM: It was like in 2002 or 2000-

O'DONNELL: Okay.

ABRAM: It was a couple of years ago. This wasn't, it's not since he was in office.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.