Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Option NOW!

From the New York Times:

Liberal Senate Democrats on Friday will push to add a government-run insurance program to the health care bill in the Finance Committee, setting off a potentially explosive debate with Republicans who view the idea as a step toward “socialized medicine."

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Thursday evening they would propose the government-run program — the so-called public plan — because efforts to revamp the health system and cover the uninsured would fail without it.

“The best way to control costs, the best way to make availability easier is to have competition to the insurance industry which does not have to make a profit,” Mr. Rockefeller said in a conference call with reporters. Mr. Rockefeller said the public plan would combat the “rapacious instincts” of private insurers.

Centrist Senate Democrats long ago nixed the idea, knowing that it would be a deal-breaker with Republicans, and are expected to defeat the proposal on Friday.

Even the one Republican still willing to vote for the bill, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, has said she would support a public plan only as a fallback to be triggered in geographic areas where the legislation fails to provide affordable insurance.

Mr. Schumer said he would push the idea even if the finance panel rejects it. “It’s a fight that is going to go down to the wire,” he said.

But even if Congress creates a public plan, it would not be available to the majority of Americans who now have employer-sponsored health insurance, because the legislation would force them to keep their existing coverage.

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!

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