Archive for April 28, 2009
Health Care Reform Update: Is the Democratic Leadership Backing Away From the Public Option?
by Alta Price, M.D.
According to an article “Baucus Lays Out Health Care Overhaul Details” in
the Commonwealth Fund’s Washington Health Policy Week in Review,
Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) appears to be backing away from a public
option in his health care reform proposal. According to the article:
a government-run insurance plan was still on the table, Baucus said, 'it
might be a bit on the side of the table.' Instead, he said he would
focus on preserving the insurance system for self-insured companies
while expanding private insurance and public programs such as Medicaid,
the insurance program for the poor. 'We'll end up with more private
insurance and more public insurance,' he said.”
In his original proposal (a.k.a. “white paper”) Senator Baucus supported the idea of a public plan:
his white paper, Baucus included the idea of a government-run insurance
option that would compete, with some limits, with private insurers. He
also proposed temporarily opening up Medicare enrollment for people
between the ages of 55 and 65, and expanding Medicaid to cover 7.1
million more people.”
don’t know about you, but I love the idea of opening up Medicare to
those 55 and older, especially when so many are losing jobs and health
care coverage, and considering that workers in that age group have more
difficulty finding new jobs.
it really disturbs me that one of the lead Democrats on health care
reform in the Senate would be so quick to jettison the heart of any
reform plan serious about addressing the cost of health care. I don’t
see how the government and individuals can afford to support the
for-profit insurance industry in the style to which they have become
accustomed. Will it be like Medicare Part D, where drug companies get
to charge whatever they want and the taxpayers pay?
I am all for
letting people buy private insurance, but if we are going to mandate
that everyone (or their employer) buy insurance, I want the private
insurance companies to compete against a public plan similar to
If private insurance adds value, people will buy it. If not,
why should the taxpayers have to subsidize them? Insurance companies
should not be able to enrich themselves at the taxpayer’s expense.
am trying to do some investigative reporting on this topic, by
contacting Senators Harkin and Grassley and Representative Braley to
get their comments on the public plan option. I’ll let you know what I
hear back from them next week.
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa. E-Mail Alta Price