In a little-remarked upon pronouncement in his pre-Martha’s Vineyard press conference, President Obama said something that left me worried. See if you know where I am going with this:

[Republican opposition to ObamaCare] is hard to understand as a — an agenda that is going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we're going to replace it with something better. There's not even a pretense now that they're going to replace it with something better.

There's not even a pretense now that they're going to replace it with something better. Could this be the trial balloon? Will this be the administration’s rationale for bringing in a single-payer system, designed totally by Democrats?

The GOP put forward ideas for incremental improvements in our health care system—everything from lawsuit reform to health savings accounts—until they were blue in the face during the lead-up to ObamaCare. They could not get dismissive and dictatorial Democrats to listen to their ideas.

It is true that currently many opponents of ObamaCare are advocating concentrating on getting rid of ObamaCare first rather than having a full-fledged system ready to go. This isn’t such a bad thing: maybe we want to do things piecemeal this time, if we get a second chance.

But if my apprehension is grounded in reality, the president may be laying the groundwork for a single-payer replacement of ObamaCare. The Republicans, it will be said, had no ideas of their own so it was necessary to act without them. Fox News reports:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid recently made clear what conservatives have long suspected: that he and other Democrats, including the president and key officials, see ObamaCare as a stepping stone to single payer, government-controlled health care.

Reid told a television interviewer, "Don't think we didn't have a tremendous number of people who wanted single payer system."

But, he added, it didn't happen because "you know, we have to get the majority of the votes and we weren't able to do that."

A single payer system would involve the government paying for all health care costs and abolishing the private insurance market.

Reid’s comments have revived discussion of the prospect of a government-run health care system. Despite the problems it has been encountering recently, ObamaCare is only partially run by the government.

Avik Roy addresses Reid’s remarks at Forbes magazine.