Ah, public option day. That’s what bloggers have deemed today as Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer plan to make their case for public option during the Senate Finance Committee markup. By the way — you can watch the action (or lack thereof) on cspan.org, which live-streams video from the Capital.
Reuter’s David Alexander previews: “Senate Finance Committee deliberations have mirrored the broader debate over health care in at least one critical aspect: The tough choices have been saved for later. Later starts now. Tuesday brings votes on the public option — the outcome of which won’t change the final legislation (the Republicans plus the centrists almost certainly have enough votes on the committee to keep a robust public plan out).”
In preparation for the event, Media Matters posted an unexpected defense of the liberal goal: “More Americans believe in UFO’s than oppose a public option.” That’s definitely a new one…
James Capretta of the New Atlantis takes issue with another new defense of the public option, based on Congressional Budget Office scores of the cost-saving potential of the provision: “The confusion of government price setting with efficiency really goes to the heart of the entire debate. Yes, Medicare does dictate payment rates to hospitals, physicians, and others. On paper, that can, for a time, look cheaper. But hardly anyone believes that is really the solution to our long-term cost problem.”
Perhaps also timed for today’s events, The New Republic published online Jonathan Cohn’s article, “Going Dutch,” on the Dutch health care system, a universal insurance scheme that is comprised of only private companies. Cohn argues that the Dutch experience indicates a public option is not a “must-have,” but in the absence of more serious regulation, there would remain some differences between the Dutch and U.S. health care systems:
One additional issue, not to be overlooked, is the question of price. Dutch consumers don’t have to worry about paying a lot of money for their health care, even if they are sick, in part because the insurance has very little cost-sharing–and in part because the government continues to play a strong role in setting prices, although it’s been gradually relaxing them. But there’s nothing in the current bills approaching the type of price controls that the Netherlands has.
And Heritage’s Conn Carroll expands his opposition beyond the public option:
It is unclear at this point if centrist Democrats in Congress are really ready to force this many people out of their existing private care and into government-run health care. But even if the public option is not included, there are still plenty of regressive job killing taxes and invasions of privacy in the Baucus plan that makes it terrible public policy.