Healthcare public option on life support, will it be revived?

September 30, 2009

The healthcare “public option” was dealt a blow by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, so now the question is whether it can be resuscitated when the legislation hits the Senate floor.

The Senate Finance Committee was always going to be the hardest sell. OBAMA/

The government insurance option will get another shot when the healthcare overhaul bill goes to the Senate floor, and let’s not forget the House of Representatives which is likely to pass a public option in its version of the legislation.

A Thomson Reuters poll found that 63 percent of Americans surveyed were willing to pay for healthcare reform. But only 35 percent of them said President Barack Obama’s reform agenda and the debate in Congress would lead to better health service.

In other healthcare news, Obama announced a plan to spend $5 billion for medical and scientific research, including jobs and supplies. It will come out of the $787 billion economic stimulus.

And tomorrow, doctors plan to descend on Washington for the MillionMedMarch to have their say in the healthcare debate.

Do you think Obama should push for the public option, or abandon it as the price for getting healthcare reform through Congress?

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Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama looks through microscope at the National Institutes of Health)


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Make no mistake about it: the insurance companies will be the only winners in this so-called healthcare reform. No one has made any promises to lower healthcare costs or lower health insurance premiums. Obama and Congress promised only that if you have health insurance you cannot be penalized for a pre-existing condition or that your insurance company cannot refuse to pay for a necessary treatment. Also, if you don’t have health insurance but want it, an insurance company cannot refuse you a policy. There are no promises that an insurance company cannot charge you an ungodly amount for a policy or raise your existing premiums to make up for being forced to cover more health conditions or treatments. That’s where the public option comes in. Some people think that a public option will compete with the private insurance industry, and hence lower costs. What fools! The insurance companies WILL get their money whether it comes from the private or the public sector. The only solution is to abolish health insurance and force doctors and hospitals, at gunpoint if necessary, to provide healthcare at a reasonable cost. All healthcare providers will be government workers and be paid a straight wage just like the rest of us. Doctors will have to lower their living standards; no more Mercedes Benz, it is now a Ford he drives to work. He will own one modest home and not play golf every day. Folks, that’s what it’s going to take. I challenge anybody to prove me wrong. If you don’t agree, then what’s your solution?

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive

The root cause of our health-care problem is our failed attempt to rationalize American profit-motives against our equally compassionate motives to deliver ethical and competent health care for every citizen. This is like trying to mix oil and water. It flatly cannot be done, and never the ‘twain shall meet.

There is no place whatsoever for health insurance companies in America. Health insurance is in direct conflict with the right to pursue happiness, declared by our founding fathers. The only solution is a single-payer government operated system. Every over-size executive health-care bonus directly translates into the people who had to die because their care was denied by health insurance companies. Let’s get rid of health-insurance (an oxymoron in the language of capitalism) sales companies for once and for all. They have no business whatsoever being in existence. Insurance is valid and proper for fire-insurance, liability, casualty, life insurance, automobile, but not for human health care. The underlying motives are too conflicted. Profit-based health-insurance has denied too many people the care they need and are entitled to receive, for way too many years. Government Run Medicare functions just fine and far more efficiently than health insurance companies, thank you very much! And I trust Medicare far more than any health insurance company! Single payer and no bones about it!

Posted by Paul W. | Report as abusive

-My solution most certainly does not include waving a gun at my doctor.

-Medicare is in no way efficient AND its under water.

Posted by Hello | Report as abusive

Medicare IS very efficient and most people on it are extremely happy with it as far as it goes. It doesn’t cover some things that people think it should like dentistry.

The financial problems with Medicare come from 4 major sources. First, unfunded mandates. Nixon added all the disabled, many of whom cannot pay the monthly premiums; Reagan added those with end stage kidney disease then all the people with HIV/AIDS. And Bush II put in the prescription drug plan which required the government could not bargain down prices (VA pays about half of their cost) and every one has to sign up for a private insurance plan to get them (penalty if you don’t sign up). In none of those added loads were funds added to Medicare.

The second cost driver is over treatment and over use of goods. When doctors (usually surgeons) order what’s best for their wallets rather than what’s best for the patient they not only drive up costs but frequently endanger their patients. Also equipment suppliers, who even advertise on TV push seniors to demand their doctor prescribe something – like those little mobility carts that are not really required, or prescriptions for what ever trendy drugs they are pushing. A Lot of fraud goes on with this.

A third is that actual costs are going up. There are more things being treated, more complex drugs and treatments have been developed. 10 years ago there were no treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. 25 years ago there were no treatments for AIDS. Now there are. There many more.

One of the biggest costs to the system is the cost of preventable medicare errors. Most don’t kill outright although there are close to 200,000 deaths each year due to preventable errors in hospitals alone. For the most part the errors cause suffering and require additional hospital days, even further surgery, just to rectify what happened to the patient in the hospital. This is hugely expensive and it’s a problem that has been growing worse over the last 30 years.

Aside from the first these problems afflict any one who needs health care or who pays for health insurance.

There are a lot of things in the health care bill that aim to fix all that, or at least make a healthy start on fixing things. It will improve patient care and reduce cost. Those things aren’t to interesting to pick fights over so you don’t hear about them. But the house bill (HB 3200) is on line so you can go look at it.

I am so glad I’m finally on Medicare so I don’t have all the hassles that private insurance caused me. It’s not under water. The trust fund holding the excess payments made is going to run out if we don’t reform health care.

Posted by Sam Dobermann | Report as abusive

Definitely public option. The public has to stop standing down and start standing up on issues. We elect representatives to speak and act on our behalf, but then at some point they develop “personal consciences” (lobbyists) that somehow know better than we what it is we want and need. They should not only start listening to what we say, they should start acting accordingly.

Posted by Patricia Violante | Report as abusive

patricia,the people are speaking the majority of the polls show that those in favor of a public option are now in the minority,and becoming less by the hour.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

we do not need a public option we can have bake sales to help people pay off their medical bills.

last week our local church raised 325 dollars to help a family pay for a 80,000 medical bill. that was the right thing to do for that family.

this is america we do not need gov interference with our health care. if we cannot make profits off the sick and needy what good is capitalism.

yes this family lost their home and are on food stamps but that is the american way. a bank got their home at a great price and will make a huge profit.

god bless america.

got to go to bible study we are talking about compassion tonight like having the bake sale for that family that are now living in a storage shed.

thank god jesus was a capitalist.

also thank god for conservatives’ truly compassionate and wonderful people to stick up for corp america

Posted by researcher | Report as abusive

Who was this family that lost their home? What was their name? What was the name of their doctor?

If you want to supply anecdotes, provide details.

Posted by Michael Ejercito | Report as abusive