Votes Not Available For Public Option (For Now)

Having more time to review the proposals and the politics of health care reform since I posted yesterday I find I was overly optimistic about the prospects of a public option. There is a simple reason that it was not included in Obama’s health care proposal–there are not enough votes at present for it to pass through reconciliation. Jay Rockefeller stated that the votes are not there in the Senate, and Robert Gibbs stated this at a press briefing.

This might not mean that the public option is dead yet. Many Senators are pushing for it. Polls show that a majority of people want the public option and it might be possible to pass this through a separate bill. One problem with health care reform is that its complexity makes it easier for Republican distortions to fool people. Several polls have showed that far more people support components of health care reform when asked about them individually, including the public option, than say they support the full bill. (This is due to both people not understanding what is in the bill, and because those who oppose the bill because they do not believe it goes far enough are often lumped with conservative opponents, giving a false reading of the opposition.)

Once health care reform is passed it might be possible to put pressure on more Senators to allow individuals the option of voluntarily purchasing a public-run plan modeled on the popular and successful Medicare program. Another alternative might be to return to the idea of allowing people age 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare if they choose.

Obama’s proposal does help make up for the loss of a public option with other benefits over the original Senate plan as I noted in the previous post. The individual mandate will be watered down further. The plan lowers the maximum penalty for not having insurance to $695 which won’t be phased in until 2016. There is a hardship waiver so people can opt out of the requirement if premiums cost over 8 percent of their income. Couples earning under $18,700 would be exempt from the requirement, with tax credits being available for many who earn greater than this. The proposal also includes new controls to limit the ability of insurance companies to increase rates.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Ron Chusid says:

    Votes Not Available For Public Option (For Now) #p2 #hcr

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