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Progressives never accuse Howard Dean  of being a sellout, so when he speaks favorably of the Senate compromise–dropping the public option in favor of expanding Medicare–as he did on Rachel Maddow’s show Thursday, that’s an opinion many of us respect.

But Jane Hamsher’s assertion that expanding Medicare is only worthwhile if it’s a mandate for everyone 55 and older is based on credible knowledge. She contacted Physicians for a National Health Program, who informed her that if it isn’t mandatory “it becomes the place where all the sickest patients get dumped.”

Is Dean’s optimism ill founded?