Certainly President Obama’s health care proposals fall short of what most of us want — national single payer — but at least the proposal includes a public insurance plan that promises to provide coverage for many Americans now locked out of private insurance, either by lack of money or a “preexisting condition.”
Although I expect many Americans would still fall through the cracks and remain cut off from health care, I believe the public option would be a great help to millions who don’t have health insurance now. If that option is removed from the reform package, however, what’s left will amount to feeble tweaks of the current system that would make little tangible difference to anyone but Big Pharma and health insurance executives.
Naturally Republicans are fighting the public plan tooth and nail. Now there’s a “compromise” option championed by “moderates” that effectively would remove the public plan without officially killing it.
My definition of a “moderate” in this context — politicians who vote against the interests of their constituents not because of lunatic right-wing ideology, but because they’ve just plain been bought off.
“Moderate” Republican Senator Olympia Snowe came up with the idea of a “trigger” that would postpone the public plan to some hazy place in the future unless private insurance fails to meet certain benchmarks. Then the public plan option would be taken off the shelf and put into effect.
This means there never will be a public plan, except on paper. Even if private insurance misses the benchmarks, you know that Congress will come up with fine excuses for them so that the public plan doesn’t happen.
As I've written elsewhere, it appears that the purpose of a health care system is not to provide health care, but to support a profitable health care industry.
Ryan Grim reports for Huffington Post that a pack of Blue Dog Democrats are backsliding on earlier pledges to back the public plan and are coming out in favor of the trigger. Although the Blue Dog Coalition (click here for member list) hasn’t officially declared support for the trigger, it may be heading in that direction. If enough Democrats sell us out for the “trigger” option, health care reform is dead.
And, once again, the Democratic Party will have failed us, and once again, special interests and not the people will set public policy.
(An earlier version of this post is published at The Mahablog)