As I eluded yesterday, the clouds are moving in on health care reform, specifically, the public option.
I came across this article that tells us that former senators Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and Howard Baker, have created the Bipartisan Policy Center which has drafted their own insurance plan. Their “policy center” has been funded by, ta-da, the insurance industry. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that just yesterday it was reported that Daschle was trying to talk Obama out of the public option. Ezra Klein has an article at the Washington Post, titled “The Finance Committee’s “Comprehensive Incrementalism.” The article is mostly concerned with the Finance Committee’s attempts at cutting costs to the detriment of a public plan. Klein says:
It is one of the paradoxes of the legislative process that something that is substantively quite timid can also be quite bold. This version of health reform is far from what the country needs. It is far from what any health-care experts would develop left to their own devices. But it is still a monumental initiative and, if passed, it would be the most significant step forward since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.
It is also worth remembering, however, that this bill has not been merged with the more liberal legislation being considered by Sen. Ted Kennedy's HELP Committee. Nor has it been reconciled with the legislation being driven through the House of Representatives, which Speaker Pelosi promises will feature a strong public plan. And most importantly, the White House has not forcefully stepped in with its priorities and preferences. Health care reform still has a long road to travel. This is just one snapshot that helps to illustrate how the landscape is changing along the way.
All is not lost, but it will be if we don’t take action.
Look, I am all for being fiscally responsible. That said, there’s no way to do this on the cheap. The last time we tried to do something on the cheap was Iraq, and look at how that’s gone. Congress approved the budget which accounted for a large amount of money to be set aside for a new health care plan. Do not let them funnel that large sum to the insurance companies. Do not let them allow the insurance companies to reform themselves. I assure you they won’t. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
Everybody knows somebody that has some kind of health care horror story. Far too often we make health decisions on what it will cost, not how it will improve our lives. The only way to get quality care in this country and lower costs is to put a public option on the table. That is true competition and competition is the only way the insurance companies will clean up their act. For those of you who are scared shitless of a government plan, then we must make sure that our private options remain. Then, like toothpaste and shampoo, we can make the decision based on what works best for us.
Supporters of a public option, such as myself, do not give up. There’s still time. These are only drafts, so make sure that they include a public option. Call your representatives today! Think of it as a vote.