07.31.2009 0

The Public Option on the Table

  • On: 08/18/2009 09:45:49
  • In: Health Care
  • By Robert Romano

    The so-called public “option”—no less than a government takeover of the entire health care system—is apparently off the table. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), appearing on FOX News Sunday, said, “The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been.”

    Not that it matters in the great scheme of things. Because the American people’s adamant opposition to ObamaCare does not matter all that much to their representatives. Besides expanding government’s reach to control the lives of the American people, what matters most to Congressmen are their prospects for reelection. They desire nothing more.

    And now the American people are learning that, at least in the Senate, they are not willing to lose their seats over this bill.

    To put this revelation in perspective, despite having 58 Democrat Senators plus two Independent Senators that caucus with them, and 256 Representatives—more than enough to pass any bill they desire—Congressional Democrats allegedly cannot summon the votes in the Senate to enact their top agenda item: socialized medicine. And why might that be?

    The American people have made their voices loud and clear: They do not want a government takeover of their health care. They do not want rationing boards to eliminate “overhead” costs and cut out “unnecessary” tests and procedures that really means less quality care administered to America’s seniors. They do not want the unsustainable debt the program would produce to be passed on to their children and their children’s children.

    However, while a prominent senator declaring the public “option” dead on arrival in the Senate is certainly good news for the American people, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Congressional opposition to this proposal is contingent upon the continued opposition by the American people to a proposal that threatens no less than the quality of health care their families and friends receive.

    And if the American people stop making phone calls, writing letters, and visiting with their Congressmen to express their opposition to the takeover, then representatives may start to believe that the coast is clear. That perhaps they can get away with it. And that is when they can and will deliver the deathblow to the nation’s health care system.

    In the House, there are still 3 pieces of legislation, all of which still include the public “option.” Meaning it is still very much on the table, at least in that chamber. After all, whether or not the plan can pass the Senate really has little to do with the legislation that the House will pass.

    It also says nothing about what a final version of the bill will look like out of the conference committee, which is where the action always is. There, the House—represented by Nancy Pelosi—will have a full seat at the table. And there, the public “option” will very much be on the table.

    In truth, there is no way Nancy Pelosi can get a health care bill out of the House that does not include the public “option,” which Kaiser Health News reports will cost more than $1.5 trillion.

    Indeed, the inclusion of the public “option” is a deal breaker for the more radical members of the House. On CNN, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson said, “It would be very, very difficult, because without the public option, we’ll have the same number of people uninsured. If the insurance companies wanted to insure these people now, they’d be insured.”

    The fact is: the public “option” is the Democrat Party’s proposal on the issue of health care. Without it, they would have to go back to scratch.

    Certainly, Barack Obama is not ready to call it quits. In Colorado on Saturday, he said, “I think that we can craft a system in which you’ve got a public option that has to operate independently, not subsidized by taxpayers—it would be nonprofit… they would have to go on the market and get a market price for capital.”

    What this so-called not-for-profit “cooperative” would look like legislatively or if it will even be in the final bill remains to be seen. But even Barack Obama still says there will be a “public option.”

    All of which means that the public “option” is actually still on the table. They may call it something different. They may move a few boxes around. They may paint it pretty colors. But it will still be the same abominable government takeover of the entire health care system. And the American people will not like it.

    Robert Romano is the ALG Senior News Editor.

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