Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Ditching the Public Option Could Produce a Better Health Care Bill

5 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
It may be too soon to write a requiem for the public option, but I'm going to do it anyway and hope that the Senate fallback is even better: A bunch of creative ideas topped by opening up Medicare to younger Americans.

The public option in the Senate was devolving into a shadow of what I and others had envisioned at the start of the health reform process -- that is, a publicly administered, non-profit insurance plan that would compete with private plans and pressure insurers to keep prices low.

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post lists five compromises under discussion as alternatives to the public option:
-- Allowing people between ages 55 and 65 to buy coverage through Medicare, the federal program for seniors.
-- Expanding Medicaid to cover more poor people.
-- Reviving President Obama's proposal to cap charitable deductions and using the money to expand subsidies to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance policies.
-- Regulating insurers more tightly, in particular requiring them to use a certain amount of premium money for medical services as opposed to profits, advertising, salaries and administrative costs.
-- Opening up new insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to more people (current proposals limit them to the uninsured, the self-employed or workers at small businesses).

I would hardly miss the public option if all of those ideas were adopted. They won't be, of course, but I'd settle for three out of five. The Medicare proposal is especially appealing. It is a public option, but people don't need a definition or an inoculation against claims that it's socialism. That's because it's simple and clear and it already exists. Those who have it tend to love it. And it's flexible -- it can always be opened up to include different groups of people if there is a pressing need.

This has been a long journey for me as well as many others. Ten days after the launch of Politics Daily, in one of my maiden columns, I wrote a piece entitled "Private Insurers Should Have To Perform or Perish." The gist was that a government-run alternative would be a moment of truth for insurers and if they couldn't or wouldn't measure up, so be it.

But the continued watering down of the public option proposal has essentially neutered it. People with insurance through their jobs would not have the choice of the public option. The way things have been going, with talk of opt-outs and opt-ins, it would not be available in some states. Rates would not be tied to Medicare, so there would be no price pressure. Still another compromise would involve a "trigger" -- though what exactly would trigger a public option is not clear, nor is what would be triggered. Some triggers involve a national program, but others are limited to state-run programs. The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, says only 6 million people would buy the public option currently in the Senate bill -- and they'd probably be among the sickest, so premiums would be higher than private premiums.

I've finally joined the camp of enough already. President Obama seems have been in that camp for a while, and didn't mention a public option in his pep talk to Democratic senators Sunday on Capitol Hill. "The president didn't get into individual amendments -- like he hasn't throughout this process," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday when asked why Obama didn't raise that issue or abortion.

Asked if the public option issue was too hard, Gibbs said "no" and mentioned the group of 10 Senate Democrats -- a mix of pro and con -- that has been seeking a compromise. "By all accounts those discussions are going well and they are making progress," he added. Should the Senate drop the public option, there will be outrage among many on the left and few ways to neutralize it. The trump card is the Medicare buy-in. So now we cross our fingers and wait.
Outbrain - The Most Trusted Content Discovery Platform

Get Your Content Discovered.

Promote your content on premium websites

Learn More ›

Outbrain Amplify:
Get your content discovered

Your content will be promoted on the web's largest and most respected media properties, including CNN.com, Slate and ESPN. We make sure it's seen precisely when people will find it most interesting.

Learn More

Outbrain Engage: The solution for a modern publisher

Outbrain Engage is a full stack software solution that empowers an entire media organization to more effectively manage its online content and programming experience.

Learn More

The world's largest content discovery platform

We bring together premium publishers and marketers of all sizes (including many of the world's leading brands) into the world's largest and most vibrant content marketplace. Learn more about Outbrain ›

561 Million

The global audience reached by Outbrain each month*

190 Billion

The total recommendations we serve consumers monthly

80%

Of the world’s leading brands use Outbrain

* Audience reach according to comScore, September 2014. Leading brands via Ad Age DataCenter / Kantar Media, 2014.

Andy Blau
We selected Outbrain not only because the revenues were higher than others, but because its engine drives better recommendations than others.
Andy Blau
Senior Vice President, Group General Manager
Time Inc.
Dan Horowitz
It's less about buying traffic than it is about reaching the right people with relevant headlines to get them to your content.
Dan Horowitz
EVP and Senior Partner
Fleishman-Hillard Digital
Katrina Craigwell
Our goal is always to deliver content that adds value to the conversations being held by the end user. Outbrain allows us to do just that.
Katrina Craigwell
Global Manager of Digital Marketing
GE
Bailey Foote
The fact that we’re able to drive these kinds of transactions with consumers at scale and with increasing efficiency has made Outbrain paramount to our marketing strategy.
Bailey Foote
E-commerce Manager
The Line
Neal Moore
You cannot leave it to chance that someone will find and engage with your content. Outbrain can put your content in the midst of the world’s most prestigious publications.
Neal Moore
CEO
Click2View
Zach Zavos
Having links to our content appearing directly on premium publisher sites helped us establish our brand.
Zach Zavos
Co-Founder
Conversant Media
Mike Brito
Outbrain is one of those [critical] components helping us deliver the right messages to the right contingent at massive scale and in real time to counter a crisis.
Mike Brito
Group Director
WCG

A global footprint of service

We operate offices in 11 global territories and we partner with publishers and marketers in over 55 countries, including the U.S., UK, France, Brazil, India and Japan. Come join us ›

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
robert-and-donna-trussell
CHAOS THEORY
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>