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Public option: What's the plan?

Helen Redmond writes in Counterpunch (from PNHP, April 26, 2009):

At the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Citizen Action Illinois sponsored rally in Chicago last weekend, single-payer advocates confronted HCAN leadership and Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) who instead of working to pass HR 676, John Conyers single-payer bill titled the United States National Health Insurance Act, are supporting the so called “public option.”

What the public option plan is, no one can exactly say. There are no concrete proposals spelling out what the plan would include, who could join it, how much it would cost, or how it would be funded. But the details don’t matter, they advocated for it anyway.

There's no there, there! Anybody who's advocating for public option is advocating for a marketing slogan. Period. Witness FDL:

Jane Hamsher writes a post titled The Pillars of a Robust* Public Option (now? We only knew what the pillars were today? WTF? Immediately, a commenter chimes in with a completely different set of principles, already developed elsewhere on FDL. Nice work, but they didn't know either? And immediately after that, another comment chimes in with a third set of principles. So, they didn't know what public option is either? WTF? I love Hamsher's whip tools, both in principle and for the technology, but I don't love the idea of whipping for public option without knowing what it is. Call me old-fashioned...

By contrast, single payer advocates know what single payer is: We have an already-crafted bill, HR676. We don't have to be deciding, on the fly, how to bring the mere wind of a marketing slogan down to the earth of policy proposals. And I've had a bellyful already of "broad principles" with no detail.

NOTE * "Robust" is one of those Versailles words you want to watch out for. Back in the day, when I was a high priced tech consultant, "robust" meant "in a big honkin three-ring-binder I can show to management." Empty linguistic calories, totally.

UPDATE Then again, perhaps there are some advantages to doing this on the fly. I just added a Sibelius prophylactic to the 4 HCAN't principles: #5. Single-payer ready, and it seems to have gotten a little traction. Interesting!

UPDATE As I just commented elsewhere -- hastily crafted legislation passed NOW NOW NOW -- what could go wrong?

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a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I thought you were going to link us to another one of those airbrushed blue thingies!

What it actually should be is something like those big signs they put on the (increasingly common) vacant lots waiting to be developed...

"Your public option plan here: Will build to suit*"

*the highest bidder, that is.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

the first "immediately" link goes to congressional hearings, not the comment (referencing "scarecrow's list"). Scarecrow's list itself can be found here.

Submitted by Anne on

last night, and landed on Nightline. A woman stood up and pointed out that we spend more than twice per person on health care than countries where everyone is covered. As soon as Obama started to answer her question, I changed the channel; I knew listening to him would have me tossing and turning all night, so even though I should have watched in order to hear for myself what he’s now saying, I needed the sleep more.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

At least in my version. Plus, no denial of coverage to anyone.

Folks probably remember that I'm for a public plan to compete with the private plans in order to demonstarte in real time the failures of conservativism. However, given the current White House incumbent and his FKD backers, I don't trust that there will be a real public plan, just something that is called a public plan.

The right and the FKDP did coopt the "public plan" phrase. That we let them, and actually helped them could turn out to be damaging to liberalism.

Submitted by jawbone on

adversely affect the Big Insurers, he stated no one eligible for insurance through an employer would be able to get into the"public plan," and that large employers who do not offer pirvate isurance

When a man from MA, small business owner, said he earned too much for the state plan and too little to afford private insurance, Obama, again, danced around. In the face of actual facts, he said, iirc, the PP would cause the Big Insurers to lower thier prices. Bcz Big Insurers would not be allowed to deny insurance. No mention of what they could charge for those undesirables. Big Insurance hasn't charged less in MA, doood!

He said he would make decisions based on science (facts), and he won't, mommy! Whaaaaaa!

Also, in mentioning any public plan, it seems to be an extension of Medicaid--which offers far, far less actual choice and, while difficult to get into now, is still underfunded.

Medicare for All (essentially single payer) is what should be enacted. Fold all the government healthcare programs into it, but leave the VA as a specialty system, handling injuries not usually seen in civilian life. Its expertise would be called on when civilians did suffer such injuries.

Screw the disruption--Obama doesn't care about the disruption of individuals' lives, of famililies' lives, but he sure does care about those BHIP*pers.

I caught the tail end of some report about politicians saying something about people threatening to not support pols who don't support X program. It was denounced as foolish to drop support for a basically good representative just bcz of one program.

Me? Adult lifelong Democrat. I'm gone from them if they can't support the needs of the people.

BHIP*--Big Health Industry Players