Debating the Public Health Care Option
While the White House is trying to figure out how to quell a Democratic intraparty struggle on health-care reform, our Readers Who Comment are busy calling each other names and arguing about Post columnist Steven Pearlstein's suggestion that President Obama give up on the public option.
Pearlstein writes that "By insisting on a government-run plan, liberals have played right into the hands of Republicans who aim to defeat any reform by mischaracterizing it as a government takeover."
The arguments on both sides of this issue are now well known, and repeated with passion by our readers. They argue that the only way to control insurance company profits is for the government to offer a competitive alternative, or they argue that the government has no business doing such things. Getting lost in all this noise is the fact that the present system leaves far too many people without decent health care while politicians work on scoring political points.
We'll start with keetz44, who wrote, "Mr. Pearlstein, we will not give up the public option. Why don't you give up bashing it."
But paul6554 said, "Thanks Steven as always for educating the public with rational arguments, rather than scaring them with irrational exaggerations."
TT42, despairing, said, "You couldn't be more wrong! Without the public option, this whole thing is worse than nothing: we won't have another chance to fix this mess for another 25 years. Giving up on the public option is letting the Republicans win! It's giving in to the health insurance companies and the drug makers. Better nothing at all than that!"
Realist20, noting those and other similar comments, wrote, "The loony left wing will go nuts when they read this, but the Public Option is dead, but it is always the clueless that figure it out last."
georgiarat said, "I wish people would stop calling this a public option. It is not a public option, it is a GOVERNMENT Option! Was it a public bailout of the banks and insurance companies? Was it a public option takeover of GM and Chrysler? No they were GOVERNMENT bailouts and Government takeovers."
Dannoday made a point that often gets lost in the noise in writing, "Health care reform is not about redistributing wealth. It's about redistributing compassion."
Matthew_DC suggested that "Perhaps a suitable compromise would be that for an individual earning over $250,000, he/she gets to enter the doctor's office and hospital through a separate door with a red carpet and a separate waiting area for each class of patient. How about that? Will that preserve the unique, world-class superiority of American healthcare?..."
jhozae said, "I'm still waiting for anyone who's against the public option to enumerate all the reasons the private option is so gosh darn wonderful!"
seraphina wants even more and wrote, "Mr Pearlstein is right - the public option should be buried. All Americans of good faith should be pushing for a single payer plan... If you want to control costs, get rid of an unnecessary bureaucracy who can kill grandma...THEN WE HAVE TO GET RID OF FOR-PROFIT HEALTH CARE INSURANCE. The insurance companies don't do any of that..."
Matthew_DC said, "...Your recommendation is like telling civil rights activists "it's time to give up on desegregation" because it doesn't have the votes. Some battles are not won in a day... Let the public option come up for vote last so liberal ire can be properly directed at the DEMs who are currently in the wrong party."
charleshohner wrote, "I am a health ins broker. All of the company's that will participate in the Exchange will know what all of the other company's are charging. All of them will price their product within 10% of each other as in many markets today. There will be no competition... They will all price their products so that there is no competition. This is why the Public Option is VITAL to make competion actually happen."
mcgannpat asked, "...How is it that Mr. Pearlstein chooses to ignore the fact the public option creates competition; something singularly lacking in the health insurance system now, and the one thing that will most motivate for profit insurance companies to reduce overhead costs...[?]"
jlkreutzer wrote, "We need either a public option or a very good nonprofit co-op plan that gets seed money from the feds. Private insurance only is a fiasco and it is tanking our economy as well as imposing great hardship on most Americans."
mmcgowan1 said, "If the free market had worked for health care, there would never had been the need for Medicare in the first place. But insurance companies did not find the old and frail to be a profitable segment... We have had a broken health care system for too long. We spend twice as much as other developed countries and yet our people are sicker and have shorter life expectancies. The time to make a change is now."
nicekid wrote, "There will be no meaningful health care reform. This whole ridiculous performance is just kabuki--something to keep us peasants distracted while the insurance and drug companies reach ever deeper into our pockets."
We'll close with a frustrated nychap44, who said, "You all are playing political games... Every single Republican in the house and senate could vote against [the Democrats'] health care reform bill and it would not make any differnce whatsoever to their ability to get it put into law. Why all the theatrics? I suppose they want to make it look hard. It is not. Just do it and be done with it. I am sick of watching this BS."
All comments on Pearlstein's column are here.
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