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The Public Option Debate And What It Tells Us

Friday, June 12, 2009
I'm not an expert on health care reform, but from what I've read a single-payer system is the most straightforward means of reducing health care costs and expanding coverage. But I know a single-payer system is infeasible because it effectively destroy the very large, very powerful health insurance industry and would be very easy to demagogue as "socialism" or a "government takeover of health care." So like a lot of us on the left, I've been willing to go along with a more incremental reform as long as it has a public option as one of elements of reform. If private companies provide such spectacular service (HA), then people will stay in the private insurance market. If a single-payer plan is as good as we've been led to believe, then people will choose that option. Create a fair competition between a regulated private system and a public system and see which one works. It seems like a fair compromise.

But, as usual, the status quo isn't interested in compromise, because they don't want to solve the problem. The fact that health care costs are rising and that we have tens of millions of uninsured isn't a problem, as far as they're concerned - it's a good thing. They profit from the current system, so they want it to stay the same. Oh, they might grudgingly go along with a tinkering here or there, but only if they can get their precious individual mandate so they can squeeze the 50 million uninsured of everything they own.

These are NOT people you can negotiate with. Those of us who are sincerely interested in grappling with the country's many problems need to understand that the vested interests in this country want everything to stay the way it is now - they will ferociously oppose any significant reforms, however incremental, as the thin edge of the wedge. They created our present situation, and they wish it to continue. To put it simply: it's either them or us.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:37 AM
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