Momentum for universal health care is slowing dramatically on Capitol Hill. Moderates are worried, Republicans are digging in, and the medical-industrial complex is firing up its lobbying and propaganda machine.
But, as you know, the worst news came days ago when the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with awful projections about how much the leading healthcare plans would cost and how many Americans would still be left out in the cold. Yet these projections didn’t include the savings that a public option would generate by negotiating lower drug prices, doctor fees, and hospital costs, and forcing private insurers to be more competitive. Projecting the future costs of universal health care without including the public option is like predicting the number of people who will get sunburns this summer if nobody is allowed to buy sun lotion. Of course the costs of universal health care will be huge if the most important way of controlling them is left out of the calculation.
Robert Reich’s Blog, June 19, 2009
I think common sense and plain speaking has taken a serious hit in the last several weeks, especially when it comes to health care. First was the growing realization that we’ll be talking about a “public option” rather than universal health care. It sounds like a too-clever-by-half Clinton strategy. I don’t think the voices of big Capital will be fooled by this sort of semantic game.
I’ll admit that there is something pleasing about the idea of setting up a alternative system so well run it puts most of the private system out of business. If done well, even a “public option” would have enourmous advantages, as Reich suggests, from the economies of scale to the built in administrative savings. Something tells me that big Capital won’t be fooled by this, either.
Reich is correct: Obama needs to become a champion of common sense and of good old American progressive pragmatism, making a very public case for universal health care and against the big Capital interests who seem hell-bent on driving the car right off the cliff, taking us with them. If we can get this and the Employee Free Choice Act we have a running chance at real change.