Sunday, December 20, 2009

Public Option Advocate Says Vote Yes on Senate Health Bill

Jacob Hacker, who introduced the idea of a public option, says now that the public option is out doesn't mean we should kill the bill. Even Howard Dean softened his stance.
Cokie Roberts said on This Week this morning that as soon as people discover the good things in this bill, they'll like it.
Democrats haven't done a good job getting the word out that there's some really good stuff in the bill. They've been too involved in their own internal political squabbling.
Of course, they've also had to beat back the republicans who have been hyperbolic about the whole bill, killing granny and all.
Republicans might think they're scoring points, but I think most people can see that they decided early on not to participate but rather make this Obama's waterloo. Jim DeMint announced as much at a tea party.
Why the healthcare bill is still good:
The public option was always a means to an end: real competition for insurers, an alternative for consumers to existing private plans that does not deny needed care or shift risks onto the vulnerable, the ability to provide affordable coverage over time. I thought it was the best means within our political grasp. It lay just beyond that grasp. Yet its demise--in this round--does not diminish the immediate necessity of those larger aims. And even without the public option, the bill that Congress passes and the President signs could move us substantially toward those goals.

As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms. First, it creates a new framework, the “exchange,” through which people who lack secure workplace coverage can obtain the same kind of group health insurance that workers in large companies take for granted. Second, it makes available hundreds of billions in federal help to allow people to buy coverage through the exchanges and through an expanded Medicaid program. Third, it places new regulations on private insurers that, if properly enforced, will reduce insurers’ ability to discriminate against the sick and to undermine the health security of Americans.

These are signal achievements, and they all would have been politically unthinkable just a few years ago. Read the whole thing at the New Republic