Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why A "Public Option" Ultimately Isn't Good Enough On Healthcare

For those who think that a "public option" is a total victory on healthcare, the testimony of one expert to the Congressional Progressive Caucus:

The difference between these choices could not be more stark: single-payer has at its core the elimination of U.S.-style private insurance, using huge administrative savings and inherent cost control mechanisms to provide comprehensive, sustainable universal coverage.

The “public option” preserves all of the systemic defects inherent in reliance on a patchwork of private insurance companies to finance health care, a system which has been a miserable failure both in providing health coverage and controlling costs.

Elimination of U.S.-style private insurance has been a prerequisite to the achievement of universal health care in every other industrialized country in the world. In contrast, public program expansions coupled with mandates have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, both domestically and internationally.

While I can accept that a strong public option -- which hopefully would just be offering Medicare to all those who want it -- is a step in the right direction, I still feel strongly that we won't achieve the sort of efficiency or cost control that we need until we get to single payer. And everyone serious in Washington -- from Obama down -- knows that fact, but is unable to really seriously challenge the insurance industry.