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Sunday, October 25th 2009

The Public Option Lives

I’ll be honest, I’ve declared off this blog and with full confidence that the ‘public option’ was dead. Even with all the hope for reconciliation I just did not think the Democrats had the cohesiveness or that Harry Reid commanded the authority to muster his conservative wing for the vote. Comments like this stirred me to that belief,

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln said today she opposes a public health insurance option because it would be too expensive.

“For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option they’re talking about another entitlement program, and we can’t afford that right now as a nation,” Lincoln said in a speech to the Elder Law Task Force at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

But now some are reporting that Reid has churned up a good chunk of the caucus to support at least a true up down vote on an ‘opt out’ public option.

Reid’s efforts got a boost Friday when two key Senate moderates signaled that that they were not inclined to block him.

“I conveyed to Leader Reid that a number of moderates still were extremely concerned about a government-run, taxpayer-funded, national public plan,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said in a statement after meeting with Reid. “However, I am encouraged that the conversations taking place over the past week among Senators who back different versions of a public option could potentially lead to a compromise. I believe this compromise should happen sooner, rather than later, so we can get to work on other critical aspects of heath care reform.”

An aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that, while the senator does not favor a public option with a state exemption, he was “inclined” to vote for a motion to proceed. This would put Reid closer to the 60-vote threshold.

I don’t support a public option or any government involvement in health care. But it is hard to deny that if your goal is to control costs then a global budget system is the way to go. A public option is, without a doubt, a backdoor to a single payer system in a decade or so.

It will save money if simply because of economy of scale. There might be some cost savings in the efficiency of how it functions as compared to the private insurers but the real savings will be as the public option narrows the market. If you thought health insurance was a monopoly in some areas already, it will get even less competitive. But as competition dries up, what the insurers and the public option are willing to pay for health care will as well. The entire cost of the operation will go down as providers are dictated less reimbursement for care.

Indeed I would argue a ‘public option’, and eventually a global budget system, is the only long term viable way to control costs.

Without a ‘public option’ any “health care reform” the Democrats achieve will be laughable.

If Harry Reid pulls this off in the Senate it will be impressive, even if I don’t support it. Like I said, I thought the public option was dead for sure.