Sunday, October 25, 2009

Resurrecting the public option

It seems as though the public option might still have a chance at getting through Congress. I was reading this article in The New York Times this Sunday and I got kind of excited.

I've blogged before about the necessity of a public option -- or at least that's how I see it -- and I've been angry with the Democrats for backing down on the issue. After reading the NYT article, I won't say I stand corrected, but hats off Reid and Schumer for keeping up the fight.

I agree with McCain when he says that the Democrats have enough votes to pass a fairly progressive public option plan in the House, but that the Senate is too shaky to guarantee anything of great magnitude. In lieu of of an all-out-government-run insurance plan, we may instead see the inclusion of a "trigger" option in some of the bills floating around the capital.

Essentially, this trigger option would place a time line on insurers to meet certain legally mandated standards -- particularly concerning cost of care. If these conditions are not met, it would then trigger the creation of a government-run or nonprofit plan to enter the marketplace and create a lower, more level playing field.

In the end, this trigger plan is really just public option light, and I feel like it would accomplish the main goal of the public option as it has been described, namely keeping insurers honest. Still, since the creation of a trigger plan would only be a looming threat rather than an actual one I would rather see a true public option (I'm actually in favor of a a single-payer system, as readers already know).

Some -- including Sen. Mitch McConnell from my home state of Kentucky -- feel even the trigger option is too much:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said on "This Week" that "100 percent of Republicans have indicated that they don’t think having government in the insurance business is a good idea."

I think the Republicans are starting to run out of excuses on this one as it becomes increasingly obvious that insurers -- ironically unlike those they insure -- are simply paid up with the right people. I'm curious to see how this whole thing will play out, and I'm hopeful, but I worry that once again the voices of the many will be outweighed by the money of the few.

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