Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Public Option Is Dead -- Long Live the Public Option!

If you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody's going to force you to leave your health care plan. If you like your doctor, you keep seeing your doctor. I don't want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care. But the point is I don't want insurance company bureaucrats meddling in your health care either.
--Barack Obama
I am not interested in passing health care reform in name only. Without a public option, I don’t see how we will bring real change to a system that has made good health care a privilege for those who can afford it.
--Senator Russ Feingold
The headlines proclaim that the public option is dead, and the White House seems to be making noises about its willingness to back down on the need for a public option. At this point, if you believe that the public option is essential for health care reform, your stomach may do a loopdee-loo and then bottom out somewhere near the area of your feet. But it's not time to despair. Really. Trust me on this. The public option is not dead.

The contortions the public option is going through amount to what Howard Dean calls "nothing more than politics." In other words, there's some political strategy at work here. Yesterday on Morning Joe, Dean explained:
The president knows very well that you aren't really going to have health care reform without a public option. But he also knows he has to get this out of the Senate. And he's got a very important member of the finance committee, Kent Conrad [D-North Dakota], who doesn't want to vote for this bill if it's got a public option in it. And he knows he's not going to get any Republican votes of any kind. So at the end of the day, this bill is going to be written by Democrats, it's gotta get out of the Senate, you only need a few Democrats to take out the public option.
The conversation continues the explanation, which, if I understand it correctly, essentially amounts to this:

The Senate needs 60 votes to pass the initial version of its health care reform bill. That version will need to have the blue dogs on board, so it may not include the public option.

Meanwhile, the House will pass its version of health care reform, only its version will retain the public option.

Then in October, the bill will go through the reconciliation process. For that version to pass in the Senate, it will need only 50 votes. The blue dogs can cool their heels out in the hall and it is still likely to pass.

If you haven't done it already, contact your senators and representative and tell them that you vehemently support health care reform that includes the public option.

The public option is not dead. Long live the public option!

No comments:

Post a Comment