Saturday, February 20, 2010


The public option, declared dead on a regular basis, is still supported by aboout 60% of the public, and probably a majority of Senators, who are piling on to a ststment of support initiated by Sen. Bennet of Colorado. Ask your senators to join in, or thank them if they did.

For contact numbers and a script, see the PCCC/DFA/Credo public whip count here:

Read the letter here:

The intention is to seek a nationally administered plan as part of the national exchange that will be available to individuals and small employers. It will be more effective if it is open to more enrolleess. Large numbers are the only way any health insurance scheme can work. As recently as December, Senator Rockefeller and others pushed for a PO that everyone could choose, including employees of large firms. This formulation did not prevail. It will have to remain on the agenda for the next round, as will single payer.

Why and how could it work? It's true that large numbers are the centerpiece of effective insurance plans.

It will likely have a higher enrollmenr than the original hastily written and brief CBO projecction, which predicted that the PO would charge higher premiums than the average plan, something that is expressly forbidden in the language of the bill itself.

Is it an attempt to put the risk of expensive cases on the public sector, while leaving the profitable business to the private sector? Death spirals - where healthy people quit and only people with expensive health conditions remain - are a problem now for publicly sponsored high risk pools, and the excuse for Anthem Blue Cross raising its rates by 39%. The difference is that the public option will be one choice for people who are all going to buy insurance anyway. Healthy individuals buying insurance are just as likely to choose the public option as a private one - probably more likely.

Where does something like this work now? While not the definitive case study, in California counties where public plans compete with private plans for enrollees in the State Children's Health Insurance Plans, the public sector does very well in enrollment and cost.

Some single payer supporters have not only retreated from support of the public option, they actively organize opposition, calling it "puny" and a plot that would destroy prospects for single payer in the future.

A great deal has been writtn about the PO, including in hours of Congressional testimony, all online. So just a few comments here:

The public option just isn't an insurance industry plot. Activists are fighting to make it a nationally administered alternative that will be as effective as possible. AHIP's opposition to the public option is a matter of public record, and their payments to the Chamber of Commere to oppose it were reported in the NY Times. If advocacy for the PO is also really an insurance industry plot, surely there would be some evidence somewhere - ?

It's not as good as a single payer, which is not attainable now. It is a placeholder that can be used and improved over time. The alternatives are no bill, or a bill without a public option.

Think about these statements, and then go look up tautology:

The public option could never work; the insurance industry will never let it work; the public option is a plot by the insurance industry to destroy the single payer movement.

You can't trust the government to do anything right; look at how the government mishandled Katrina.

As one commentator noted: "You know who else passed laws? Hitler."

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