Monday, March 15, 2010

Who Says We Don't Have 50 Senate Votes for the Public Option

The public option has consistently polled as the most popular proposal of all the separate components of healthcare reform, which when polled separately get consistent support from the American people. On the Dark Side, the killer insurance industry has lobbied ferociously to keep the public option out of a final healthcare bill. It might be only a sliver, according to President Obama, but it will save hundreds of billions of dollars from the deficit. Isn’t it plain common sense that anything the insurance companies oppose so fiercely has to be good for consumers? The fact is, the votes are there:

So why is it so difficult to get an up-or-down vote on the public option? There are a couple of reasons and they may well intersect. One is that Nancy Pelosi’s headcount may be affected by blue dog DINOs who are shills for the insurance industry. The other is that the White House may have cut a deal with the insurance companies several months ago not to push for a public option. What is not clear is exactly what the White House expects to get in return?

The insurance industry lobbyists have descended “like locusts” on Capitol Hill trying to defeat this bill. Obviously, they would rather not have healthcare reform pass, but if they are going to be regulated, they sure as hell do not want the people to get a taste of HOW GREAT, COST EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT a Medicare-like healthcare option will be for Americans, because it will spell, if not the death, a great diminution of their influence. Late word from a NYT source is that it wasn’t the insurance companies the White House cut a deal with but the Hospitals associations because a public option would give the government more negotiating power on prices. The insurers continue their no-holds-barred opposition while the hospital associations have given their qualified support. Such is the world of Big Money lobbying.

The bottom line is, the public option is good public policy and would be great for consumers, but a threat to the bottom line of hospitals and insurers. That’s what it’s intended to do: foster more competition and efficiencies in the system, while lowering the costs for individuals.

No comments: