The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.
What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.
Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.
Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?
Mr. Nelson softened his stand after reform advocates began a public campaign targeting him for his position on the public option.
...Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.
If you live in North Carolina, now is the time to contact Kay Hagan:
The only place most of [North Carolinians] can go is one NC company – North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield...NC Blue insures 3.7 million people out of the 5 million with private health coverage in NC – and has a near monopoly on individual and small business coverage. We need more health insurance competition and options in NC, including a public option.
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