I am dismayed whenever I read The Nation's writers talking about the so-called public option as though it were the Holy Grail.
Christopher Hayes says the public option "would mandate competition, reduce costs and cut the deficit by $104 billion over ten years." What PO is he talking about? The cruel joke contained in the House bill bore scant resemblance to the idea originally proposed by Jacob Hacker. With a mere 2 percent market share--not nearly enough clout to compete with the private sector--it most likely would not even have been able to survive without emulating the private insurance industry's worst practices.
Hayes rejoices that "the public option [has been kept alive by] the remarkably spirited, disciplined and creative work of a variety of progressive groups." The sad truth of the matter is that the smoke-and-mirrors public option was a sham that served to divide and confuse the reform movement--all too effectively. If the resources wasted by accommodationists like HCAN and MoveOn had been expended towards single-payer/Medicare for All, we might well be significantly closer to true reform than we are now. Instead, we stand before the pathetic spectacle of Obama selling out all but a last few breadcrumbs of reform.
Stop kidding yourselves. The foremost problem with our broken system is private, profit-driven health insurance, and any solution built on top of it is a loser. The minimum increment of healthcare reform is 100 percent: a publicly financed, privately delivered single-payer solution. The Nation should have gotten this through its head by now.
To those (like Obama) who say single-payer isn't politically feasible, I say neither were the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. Make no mistake: this is a struggle of comparable scale. If you are serious about changing the status quo, you have to refuse to ride in the back of the bus.
South Orange, NJ
Mar 8 2010 - 2:35pm