“Sources” from within the White House say that President Obama is preparing to abandon his support for the public option in health insurance reform.
The Obama White House’s emerging position is that he will support health care legislation that contains no public program to provide health insurance at all, but merely contains a few changes around the edges to alter coverage and to make the health care system more fiscally sustainable for public institutions. It’s not even certain that this approach would achieve its goals.
One of the provisions remaining in the watered down proposal is that insurance companies would be required to provide coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Stop and think about that, now. If the insurance companies provide medical coverage to people who are already sick, how is that going to drive down costs, if there isn’t a change in the underlying structure, with the inefficiencies private insurance companies bring?
Someone’s going to pay for the extra costs, and it won’t be the government. That leaves the insurance companies and the American people. Given what you know about insurance companies, what do you think will happen – will they absorb the costs, or pass it on to their customers?
There is another option, actually – increased rationing of medical care by insurance company bureaucrats. The insurance companies could expand coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, but then increase the number of rejection slips they send out.
What most people seem to forget is that the public option was itself a compromise. Last year, we were promised a universal health care program. Then, in order to compromise, Obama threw consideration of single-payer health care out the window to start with.
When it comes to the first fallback position on health care reform, the public option, it isn’t only the Republicans have been causing problems. Democrats in Congress are also to blame – after all, they have strong majority control of both houses.
In the House of Representatives, the Blue Dogs have howled and refused to cooperate with health care reform. In the Senate, right wing Democrats have also obstructed legislative progress. It’s the opposition to the public option from right-leaning Democratic senators like Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln that’s led to the trouble there.
If you want to understand why meaningful health care reform has fallen apart, take a look at Obama’s inability to rally the Democrats in Congress in creating progressive change. It’s a problem that suggests there’s a lot more disappointment to come.