Can there really be true healthcare reform without including a public option? The case for the public option provision in an upcoming healthcare bill took another blow on Tuesday, when the Senate Finance Committee rejected both Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) bills which included a public option.
It is important to keep in mind; even with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, they still do not have the votes to pass a bill with the public option. Why? The so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats, who represent conservative constituents and also take 25 percent more money for their political campaigns from insurance companies than other Democrats, refuse the provision.
They join every other Republican, to this point, who would not support a public option.
The problem with the debate is that the public option should have been the compromise.
The administration and Democratic members of Congress should have started with a single payer system, where the government pays for everybody’s healthcare.
Instead, the debate began with the compromise, and now it looks like that will not be part of any passable bill.
For too long, private insurance companies have gone unregulated controlling the rising price and rejecting treatment.
The bottom line for insurance companies is that they make money when they do not have to pay for their customer’s treatment, even if they pay for it.
They profit from people being sick and keeping them sick.
This quickly becomes a question of morality. Are we really reluctant to provide healthcare to all of our citizens but not reluctant to spend billions if not trillions of dollars on a war?
We are the only western democracy on the planet that does not provide healthcare for its citizens. So the notion that we are somehow drafting something that has never been done before is false, many other countries have adopted this policy, and it works.
In fact it works much better than the U.S. system. The United States spends a larger percentage of its GDP on healthcare than any other country and yet the World Health Organization ranked us 37th on its list of the best healthcare in the world.
And the countries in front of us do not merely offer a public option – their governments provide healthcare for everybody.
They provide healthcare much like we provide healthcare to our veterans. Veterans healthcare is understood to be the best care in the country. So the argument that healthcare would be inadequate if it were government run is simply false.
The public option would not only give people an opportunity to obtain healthcare who would otherwise not have it, it would drive down the cost of care provided by major insurance companies.
If the public option were in fact implemented, people who already have insurance would not even notice if they did not want to.
It would not force anybody to discontinue his or her current healthcare.
It simply ensures that people who cannot afford the same luxuries as them, the care they need that they otherwise could not afford.
Setting up a bill that creates price limits, expands government subsidies to lower income citizens who cannot afford healthcare and not allowing insurance companies to drop people who have pre-existing conditions are all good things, but they do not go far enough.
They are all strong provisions in a healthcare bill, but will anything truly change if the public option is not included?