The Public Option Must Goby: Kenneth Simon '11
The system needs reform, but not by giving the government free reign
The current debate over healthcare reform plays an integral in the process of creating the best possible legislation. Some in the media have attempted to frame conservatives against a public option as roadblocks to substantive healthcare reform. But, practicing physician and United States Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) makes it clear that “Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals all want a health care system that is more accessible, affordable and fair.” Of course, the disagreement stems from the manner in which to attain the aforementioned goals within our health care system.
The President, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the mishandling of healthcare by the Clinton administration, has taken a more hands off approach by not proposing a specific plan and going only so far as to say he supports the public option, therefore allowing House democrats led by Speaker Pelosi to put together a bill with no regard for bi-partisanship.
The Whitehouse has made attempts to inoculate the public option in hopes that it may sooth opponents that see the program as the first step to outright government run health care. President Obama, in a speech to the American Medical association, stated that “what are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system.”
Out the window goes that crazy lie spread by a bunch of overzealous conservatives. Well that was until the comment made by Chairman of House Financial Services Committee Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. Frank asserted that “If we get a good public option it could lead to single payer and that is the best way to reach single payer. Saying you’ll do nothing till you get single payer is a sure way never to get it…I think the best way we’re going to get single payer, the only way, is to have a public option and demonstrate the strength of its power.” There goes that secret. Clearly, Congressman Frank has been diagnosed with foot-in-mouth syndrome.
But on a more serious note the American people have a right to be both upset and worried about the direction the country is going. Congress passes a 3 trillion dollar stimulus bill after only two weeks of debate, takes over GM, and then the President attempts to get a healthcare bill pushed through before the August deadline. In Obamacare, or H.R. 3200, the section regarding the Public Health Insurance option notes “in designing the option, the Secretary’s primary responsibility is to create a low-cost plan without compromising quality or access to care.”
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a fiscal analysis of H.R. 3200 and declared, “By the end of the 10-year period, in 2019, the coverage provisions would add $202 billion to the federal deficit, CBO and JCT estimate.” Furthermore, the notion that the quality of health care will not decrease when the financial incentive for innovation is removed does not work and I have an inkling that there is an economics department somewhere that would agree with my assertion. The public option is simply another notch in the belt of big government and wasteful spending.
More startling than the public option itself is the coverage of the health care debate by the media. Turn on any news outlet, excluding the fair and balanced Fox News, and you are certain to find the opposition to a public option to be both irrational and radical. In reality, most of the men and women at these town halls are rational folks simply speaking truth to power.
Watch Keith Olbermann’s coverage of the men and women at these town halls and you would think we were fighting a revolution. Of course there are radical elements of any political ideology, but the majority of the people attending town halls simply attend to hear what the people they employ have to say about a fundamentally important issue to the future success of the country. The media is making a concerted effort to frame the opposition to the public option as radical so that non-partisan criticisms like that of the Congressional Budget Office will be ignored. In the end it is my sincere hope that health care reform be passed before the end of the year.
Opponents of the public are reasonable and more than ready to find good solutions to the health care problem in the country. Congresswoman Diane Watson was wrong when she asserted, “They are spreading fear and they’re trying to see that the first president who looks like me — fails.” The opponents to the public option are not attempting to see a President that looks like Congresswoman Watson fails, but instead they are attempting to see a President that thinks like her fails. Big and wasteful government is not the solution to an economy looking to recover. Whether the solution is The Patient’s Choice Act introduced by Senator Coburn or the bi-partisan plan introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bob Bennett (R-UT), one thing is undoubtedly clear: the public option must go.