After a short break, commentators are back to the public option.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein writes, “Most health-care wonks agree that the immense controversy generated by the public option has deflected attention from other important elements of the bill. You can draw only so many lines in the sand before a couple begin getting washed away. But there’s a split on whether that distraction has been a good or bad thing.” Klein lumps himself in the “good thing ” camp, saying “it’s been a boon for the bill.”
Distraction or no, The New Republic’s Suzy Khimm reports that “House liberals still aren’t backing away from their push to strengthen the public option in the reform bill. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sent a letter to [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi on Friday that demanded an up-or-down vote on the Medicare-plus-5 rates–the strong public option that was passed up in favor of negotiated provider rates.”
Bob Laszewski says of the die-hards:
I have been gratified to see many of these same people point out the health care bills have little in the way of cost containment. Their response was that the public option was a necessary means to that end. Without the public option, many said, there was no hope for long-term affordability. Now that the public option has been neutered in the House, and in that context an even more reluctant Senate is more unlikely to take any bold public option steps, just what will all of these people who saw it as the tool to manage costs say now?
Laszewski, a continued skeptic of the potential for a public option to constrain costs, says the bills before Congress do not lead “to health care reform or any real cost containment result.”
And Health Care for America Now distributed a new graph, sure to be picked up by the public plan proponents that are still working to change the newly announced legislation, that shows the difference in medical benefit-ratios, or the proportion of premium dollars spent on health costs, between Medicare and private insurers.