Don’t despair, the public option is still there…
Robert Creamer writes in HuffPost: “In a surprising vote Tuesday, ten Democrats voted to add a public option to the most conservative of the five health insurance reform bills working their way through Congress. That’s just two votes short of passage.
This robust support for the public option — in what most observers consider the most conservative committee in the Senate — signals a sea change in Congressional opinion toward the public option. The odds are now very high that some form of public health insurance option will be included on the final bill when it emerges from a House-Senate Conference Committee later this fall and is ultimately passed by Congress. In the midst of the right-wing, town hall onslaught last August, the pundits…
The three bills that have passed House Committees, and the Senate Health Committee bill, all contain a public option. And increasingly it appears that the strongest form of public option will come out of the House.
A Robert Woods Johnson Report indicates that over the last ten years wages have gone up 29%, health insurance rates have gone up 120% and the profits of the private health insurance industry have gone up 428%. No wonder they don’t want competition.
So why the resurgent Congressional support for a strong public option? There are three reasons:
1) First and foremost, voters’ support for a public health insurance option is as strong as ever. All of the right-wing talk about a “government takeover” has not fooled voters who are forced every day to deal with the stranglehold that the private insurance industry has on their health care.
Last weekend’s New York Times poll showed that 65% of all voters support giving Americans the choice of a public option and only 26% oppose it.
More importantly, the public option is also popular in swing Congressional districts. The firm of Anzeloni Liszt just released the results of a poll it conducted in 91 Blue Dog, Rural Caucus and Frontline districts. The poll found that 54% of the voters in these battleground districts support the choice of a public option.
And the poll also found that the voters in these districts want reform and want it this year. The polling report says:
Overall, 58% of voters believe the health care system is in need of major reform or a complete overhaul, and almost 59% are concerned that Congress will not take action on health care reform this year. The risks of inaction to Democrats in swing districts increases if voters perceive opposition stems from ties to the insurance industry, as 74% are concerned that the health insurance industry will have too much influence over reform.
Those kinds of polling results get the attention of Members of Congress.
2) Members of Congress have begun to realize that they will have to live with the consequences of what they pass for years to come. And what the voters will care about in the future will not be slogans or ideology. Once the program is passed, the voters will care most about one thing: affordability.”