Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Washington Has Public Health Care, So Should We

Forty-eight million Americans now lack health insurance and 73% of voters want a choice of a private or public health plan. Support for that choice is bipartisan too - Democrats 77%, Independents 79%, and Republicans 63%.

With that kind of consensus, you'd think health care reform would be a slam dunk, right? Think again. There are lots of rotten apples in the bushel (insurance, big Pharma and for-profit corporations) trying to sink public health care and their rot is spreading to Republicans and Democrats.

Convert Arlen Specter is one example. He recently told David Gregory that he would not support a public plan. (News flash, Arlen. You're not really a Democrat, you're an opportunist.)

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana said he is “agnostic” about having a public plan as part of health care reform, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana said that he believes health care reform can be accomplished “without” a public option. Ha-ha. Baucus is a real comedian. Private health insurers have been cherry-picking patients, denying claims and refusing to insure people for years, and their costs are higher than public plans like Medicare. In fact, when Republicans opened Medicare to private insurers in the name of competition, it ended up costing the federal government 12 percent more. That's not reform.

Private insurers don't want to see their gravy train end and they're spending big money trying to keep public health care from expanding, just ask Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. His biggest campaign donor is the insurance industry. According to Open Secrets, Nelson received $608,709 from the insurance industry in 2007-2008. That money won him over. Nelson said he's not interested in a public option. HuffPost explains why:
Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”
So let me get this straight. Our politicians have the best public health care plan taxpayer money can buy, yet they're essentially saying we can't have it because they want to protect private insurers. What hypocrites. Americans voted Republicans out of power because they kowtowed to corporate greed and now we have Democrats doing the same thing. It looks like we need to do some housecleaning and throw some more rotten apples out of office.


abi said...

Obama himself might even be backing off of the public option. From today's Boston Globe:

But Obama, who wants bipartisan backing for such a major undertaking, seems to be at least weighing the possibility of trading away the public option in exchange for GOP support.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, his top healthcare adviser, continues to emphasize the administration's support for the public option, but recently raised eyebrows by saying the president is "open to talking about" alternatives.

That's worrisome. Here's the link:


K. said...

"Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans."

As if the idea behind this is to protect insurance companies. Health care reform is not viable with an alternative to the private insurance industry. They are the problem, and should be treated as such.

Why try to placate Republicans? They're going to vote no anyway.

Kathy said...

Abi, my advice to Obama is this: Screw bipartisanship. A large majority of Americans want some kind of "public" health care and that's all that matters. He has a mandate and he should take advantage of it.

Note to the GOP: When your party had the chance to do something about health care in this country, you dropped the ball. (See above diary and how you screwed up Medicare by opening it to competition.) We don't need or want bipartisanship. We need public health care for all Americans.

K, you summed up what's wrong with bipartisanship perfectly:

Why try to placate Republicans? They're going to vote no anyway.Exactly.