Tuesday, October 27, 2009
There’s disagreement among Senators about whether or not healthcare reform legislation should have a “public option.” Rather than take the time and make the effort to develop the concept to the point where it either makes sense or doesn’t for all Americans, the Senate Democratic leadership and the Obama Administration chose instead to negotiate a deal in the worst possible tradition of Congressional and Presidential politics.
It’s simple. Senators represent states. If your state doesn’t like the public option, you can opt out of it. There. Now we have legislation all the Democrats in the Senate can support. What could be more perfect?
Either the public option makes sense or it doesn’t, but to give individual states the right to participate is contradictory is to the primary objective of healthcare reform legislation, that being the part where it’s supposed to be “universal,” regardless of where in these united states you happen to live.
I know, I know. Technically, we’re a federation of states. And yes, I’ve made the admittedly radical argument in a previous article that I believe the Senate has long ago outlived is usefulness. Believe me, this deal that Harry Reid struck with President Obama and his team has nothing to do with the historic basis for our country or any constitutional issue. It’s about getting legislation passed before the end of the year and the hell off everyone’s plate. What started out to be a noble cause has turned into a pain in everyone’s Congressional and Presidential butt – which is not the context in which you want to devise complex, expensive, literally life altering healthcare legislation.
Forgetting about the politics of it, or my concerns about states’ rights, how would it even work? Won’t people who can, and who want the public option, move from states that don’t offer it to those that do? How will private sector health insurance coverage, what’s left of it after the public option goes into effect, vary from state to state? Perhaps most importantly, how will the presence or absence of the public option affect the way healthcare services providers are compensated in different states, with what implications for the extent and quality of local healthcare?
What a mess. Just what, exactly, has the Senate added to the debate over healthcare reform? Or President Obama, for that matter, whose leadership has been woefully inadequate.
You might also want to read, “Did you hear the one about Medicare and the Public Option?” published October 22 on the WordFeeder.