Without a public option, the other parties that comprise America’s non-system of health care — private insurers, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and medical suppliers — have little or no incentive to supply high-quality care at a lower cost than they do now.
Which is precisely why the public option has become such a lightening rod. The American Medical Association is dead-set against it, Big Pharma rejects it out of hand, and the biggest insurance companies won’t consider it. No other issue in the current health-care debate is as fiercely opposed by the medical establishment and their lobbies now swarming over Capitol Hill. Of course, they don’t want it. A public option would squeeze their profits and force them to undertake major reforms. That’s the whole point.
Why the Critics of a Public Option for Health Care Are Wrong, Robert Reich, Tuesday, June 23, 2009
In the early 1980s, in Austin, Texas, there was a punk band called the Dicks. The Dicks had this super song whose title, if I remember correctly, was “We Hate the Rich, They Bore Us.” (Was it really the Dicks? I’d love to hear if I am wrong.) Anyway, when it comes to health care, I think that truism has now been superseded: “We Hate the Rich, They’re Cowards.”
That’s not to say that the rich are any less boring. But I say that because if the rich and/or powerful had a coherent sense of self-interest (or just a time-frame longer than the next year) they would support not just a public option but a single payer plan. With certain exceptions, though, they seem locked into some sort of dysfunctional reasoning that they just can’t seem to escape.
If we had national health care, much of the automobile debacle could have been avoided. Nationals as well as multinationals could compete more effectively with other developed nations. Small businesses could make market ideology seem almost reasonable. The list of good reasons is endless. We’d all benefit, but as with everything, the rich would benefit most. Yet we are told to compromise.
It’s as if an entire class of people rejected anti-viral drugs in the middle of a flu epidemic that was killing thousands. If Wal-Mart and ATT and the like now accept the public option principle as necessary to reform, Obama should consider that the center-right position and negotiate accordingly. If we have to accept compromise, don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater.