The public option may be the only real solution for US health care
Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 23:02
President Barack Obama has had a pretty tumultuous time lately. The economy is still slumping, unemployment is very high, and conservatives like Sarah Palin critique his every move.
His message of hope and change seems to be slowly falling into a dark abyss of one-term presidencies. During these hard times, there is but a shimmer of light piercing through the dark clouds of the Obama presidency: the possible resurgence of the public health care option.
Earlier this year, in the midst of the health care debate, the public option was addressed as a way to insert government health insurance into the market of insurance providers to provide competition.
To put in more simple terms, take West Virginia University and a private school like West Virginia Wesleyan College, for example.
One of the schools is helped by private funding while the other is helped with public funding (among other funding obviously), and each are coexisting in a competitive environment.
This is similar to how a public option would work. The public option was very popular among public opinion polls. It allowed those who were satisfied with their current insurance to keep it and for those who didn't have insurance or weren't satisfied to buy into the public health care option.
This plan, however, didn't pass through the Senate Finance Committee.
The health care debate's further stagnation through the halls of Congress has been caused by the filibuster rule, which causes a 60-person supermajority to override. Opponents of the health care bill and the subsequent public option have used this to prevent it from going any further.
A tactic used to solve this problem, one that should have been implemented at the beginning of this debate, is the seldom-used reconciliation procedure.
When Congress chooses to use reconciliation, they can successfully pass legislation with a simple majority without the threat of a filibuster.
But the road to reconciliation is not an easy one; it requires Congress to pass a concurrent resolution as well as many other processes that I won't go into any boring detail over.
The fact of the matter is, reconciliation can and should be used to pass the public health insurance option.
The revival of the public option started when Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Fla., created an online petition that called for the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., to include such option in the Senate bill and use reconciliation.
Once this took place, several of Grayson's fellow house members signed on. This led several senators to join the rally, but with a notable absence of one, West Virginia's own Jay Rockefeller.
"I don't think the timing of it is very good ... although I'm strongly for the public option" Rockefeller was quoted as saying by various media outlets.
This is a huge blow to the public option push, and Rockefeller knows it.
This last-ditch effort for the public option may be too little too late. The entire execution of Obama's health care reform has been sub-par at least.
When Obama campaigned, he built his health care platform on a single-payer system. When it came time for the health care debate, however, Obama and congressional democrats didn't use this as their benchmark.
Instead, they began driving straight for the public option when they should have been gunning for the single-payer system and compromising with a public option.
All this being said, the Obama administration and congressional democrats haven't been pursuing their health care reform tactics aggressively enough to get the desired results.
Obama came into his presidency as a knight in shining armor, ready to save America from the Bush administration and bring to light the inspiring message of hope and change to a broken country. This message is dying.
The president and Congress have a golden opportunity to pass a potentially ground-breaking and life-saving piece of legislation. They must capitalize.
Millions more Americans would receive coverage, and those people would no longer be living in fear of going bankrupt due to medical expenses.