Who’s Afraid of the Public Option?

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

The Senate Finance Committee is debating whether a public option amendment should be added to their bill.  As expected, Republicans and Blue Dog Dems are opposed.

But, listening to their debate here in the background all day, their arguments against the public option are all the same: government-imposed rationing, long wait times, bureaucrats making treatment decisions, etc.

In other words, it's a bad program that doesn't work (they claim).

What doesn't get said, and what needs desparately to be said, is that the public option is designed to compete with private insurance.  And people can choose the public option (if they want) or stay with their private insurance.

So… even IF the public option turns out to be the terrible nightmare that Republicans claim, what's the downside?  If it's going to be that bad, then people simply won't choose it, right?  So, private insurance companies "win"; it won't cost much to run, etc.

And yet, some Republicans claim that the public options is just a stepping stone to a single payer system, where there are no private insurance companies.  Well, how will that work, if the public option will be so terrible?

You see, it's a shell game.  The truth is that Republicans fear the public option, not because it won't work, but because they fear it will work.  They fear, and rightly so, that on a level-playing feel, insurance companies will fare badly, and (at worst) have to adjust their business practices to be more consumer-friendly. 

UPDATE: Senate Finance Committee votes 15-8 against Rockefeller amendment on public option.

But there's still the public option amendment offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer.  That's up now…

UPDATE:… which loses 13-10.