Moderates Against Government-Run 'Public Option'

by VR Sreeraman on  September 15, 2009 at 12:53 PM Health Insurance News   - G J E 4
 Moderates Against Government-Run 'Public Option'
Moderates from both parties backed away from a government-run public health insurance option Sunday, as they appeared on various Sunday talk shows.

The Boston Globe: "Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said the issue of a government-backed health insurance option had become a 'distraction' and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, voiced support for a public option but said Democrats should keep the big picture in mind. - Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, which is experiencing grievous budget problems, said the bill must not foist new costs on states, and Senator Susan M. Collins, a Republican from Maine, said cost was 'the number one concern, as I talk to my constituents'" (Wangsness, 9/14).

CQ Politics: Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad on Sunday "pointed out that the president 'said he's prepared to hear a better idea, so if somebody's got a better idea, bring it to him.'" He also noted that Obama said during his speech, "Look, I am ready to move toward the middle" and "talked about a plan that's very close to the bipartisan plan that's being developed in the Finance Committee."

But Conrad said "he didn't believe Obama is scuttling a public option. 'I don't think he's giving up. I think he made a very strong case for his support for a public option as an option,' he said." But Conrad also noted the President's message of being open to other ideas, such as the cooperative approach, "which would provide a nonprofit competitor but would not be government-run, would be run by its membership, as all co-ops are'" (9/13).

In the meantime, Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said the public option is "'universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate' and 'therefore, there's no way to pass a plan that includes the public option,'" The New York Times reports (Berger, 9/13).

CBS News, however, reports senior White House adviser David Axelrod said President Obama "continues to believe it's a good idea ... He continues to advocate it, and I'm not willing to accept that it's not going to be in the final package." Axelrod also said on 'Face the Nation' that the president "believes that it will add an element of competition where there is none in some places in this country where there's a monopolistic situation with insurance companies" (Levi, 9/13).

The New York Times also has an analysis piece on the public option: "That proposal took on a life of its own, but it now appears to be dying, a victim of an ineffectual White House strategy, the president's failure to argue passionately for the 'public option' and all-out opposition by the insurance industry and much of the health care industry. In the campaign, Mr. Obama said the public plan would compete with private insurers on the price and quality of care, thus benefiting consumers.

What Mr. Obama did not foresee is that, to some people on the right and the left, it would become the most important issue in the debate over health care, touching off a battle over the role of government in one of the nation's biggest, fastest-growing industries" (Pear, 9/12).

Source: Kaiser Health News

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