Sunday, August 23, 2009

Public Option--fear vs. hope

Reading through wrap-ups of the Sunday gab shows, featuring the usual array of pontificating politicians and prognosticators, I am struck by the admission finally that they fear the "public option" because it will provide more for less than private insurers and as a result will become insurer of first resort.  That is an elaborate way of saying that the "public option" is the backdoor to a single-payer national health plan.  "Progressives," as Paul Krugman calls them, backed the Obama's convoluted plan only because it contained a "public option" they hoped would become a single-payer national plan.  Thus, Republican fears are Progressives' hopes, and therein lies a real problem.  If the Obama, who ran on hope, drops the "public option" to please reactionary Republicans, he chooses fear over hope and in a real sense betrays all he has stood for.  He betrays all those who took him at his word and chose to hope.

With the debate stripped down to essentials, the House and Senate should scuttle their unnecessarily long, complex, and needlessly obfuscatory and costly legislation and write a simple expansion of Medicare into the nation's insurer.  The Obamans will be able to articulate a clear principle--the right to health care--and offer a concrete solution that is comprehensive and comprehensible.  They will also be in a position to challenge each Republican and insurance company lie as soon as it oozes into the light.

Right!  Some days I still imagine that I live in a rational society whose leaders care enough and are intelligent and informed enough to write and pass decent legislation.  Then I wake up.  

1 comment:

Retrieverman said...

The Obama administration should have started with single payer. In fact, the Democrats as a whole should have been running on single payer, even if it meant losing the odd election.


Because right now, the stars are aligned and the Democrats have all the power, but because they have spent decades waffling on this issue, they can't fully explain what they want. It's all nuance, and the American people don't have time to do nuance. They work more hours than any other people in what used to be called the First World. But if they had been running on single payer all along, then they would be in a far better position to get something. It would be delineated, and room for the wonderfully creative lies that the health insurance industry and the far right are peddling would be smaller.

Look, I'll be honest with you. I hoped that the public option would have started building the infrastructure to actually get to Medicare for all. I don't say that to Republicans. I waffle. I say that the public option will still protect private insurance. But deep down, I hope that it doesn't.

But I really don't think we should have private health insurance as the primary insurer in this country.