Sunday, November 29, 2009
RIP Public Option
The public option in the bill the House of Representatives passed is a joke that might cover a fraction of the people in need; the one in the bill before the Senate is worse. So why cling to them as if they will, as Obama keeps saying, level the playing field on insurance costs? It's far better I'm thinking now--if the Congress can't even muster the courage for a vote on expanding Medicare--to dump the public option. In its place, Congress should, as it is doing, mandate minimum coverage--access to the doctors of your choice, no penalty for pre-existing conditions or age or any other thing under the sun, no limitations on what is covered, implementation within one year--and it should forbid insurance companies from profiting from those policies. The rule should be, if you want to write any other kind of high-end coverage, you must also offer the basic coverage. That high end coverage can only cover frills, like private hospital rooms; it cannot offer different levels of actual medical care. Doctors cannot choose to take only the high end policies. If they take any insurance, they must take all insurance. Simpler than what's on the table now.