Public Option seems more likely

This is a bit of good news from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

[The President is] pleased that the Senate has decided to include a public option for health coverage, in this case with an allowance for states to opt out. As he said to Congress and the nation in September, he supports the public option because it has the potential to play an essential role in holding insurance companies accountable through choice and competition.

Previously, Obama had pretty much been pushing whatever Olympia Snowe wanted in the belief that passing something – even without a Public Option – was better than nothing:

After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe’s preferred compromise–a triggered public option–might be an easier path to 60 votes.

There still remains some big question marks. Will the opt-out idea pass the Senate? How the hell will the opt-out work?


  1. The more I read and hear about this “option” the more it sounds like a “tweak” not a reform…..there is the possibility that it could lead to a better health system for the people but for the time being it does not impress me much…..

  2. Ian

    “How the hell will the opt-out work?”

    That and how will the public option work in practice? Hopefully it doesn’t spawn a whole mess of red tape for health care providers to have to deal with.

  3. Chris

    Agreed. It’s the beginnings of good reform, not the end.

    The Public Option shouldn’t be anymore difficult to handle from a providers perspective than any other insurance company.

  4. Ian

    I agree, but in practice its not the case with current public health care. It does create a bunch of hoops for providers to jump through. I am very much for the public option and I just hope its executed well.

  5. JM

    I just hope its executed well

    I would hope that whoever is advising folks behind this effort have done their research on the multitude of other systems and have come up with the best fit for the US.

  6. Ian–I found this explanation in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    How the Plan Might Operate

    Some details of a provision, to be included in the Senate bill, for the government to sell health insurance in competition with the private market:

    Probably beginning in 2013, insurance-buying “exchanges” would be open to people buying coverage on their own and to small businesses. They could choose from private plans, or from the public one, which probably would be cheaper, since it would not need to turn a profit.

    The public plan would be in effect nationwide, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal would allow states the opportunity, starting in 2014, to “opt out” of it.

    Various proposals are being considered for how states could opt out.

    Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.), who came up with the idea, proposed requiring that states

    pass laws to exit the public plan.

    The public plan would get startup money from the government, but that would be paid back over time, and the plan would be paid for by premiums from participants. Rates paid to providers would be negotiated by the government.

    In other words… is vague at best on how it will actually work….