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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Public Option Shuffle

Harry Reid tried to do a misdirection. He knew that many Senators had qualms over the public option. He knew that many liberal Senators wouldn't accept a health care overhaul without one. So, Senator Reid attempted to split the difference.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this afternoon that he plans to push
ahead with a public health insurance option that includes an opt-out provision for states – even though he's currently short several votes for passage, according to people close to the situation.

"It's the fairest way to go," Reid said at a news conference, where he said he’ll send the state opt-out plan to the Congressional Budget Office. States would have until 2014 to opt out.

What does a public option with an opt out plan mean? That's still difficult to assess. Senator Gregg said it best.

Assuming that the states will opt-out of a federally subsidized
government-run plan is like assuming your children will opt-out of their

That is entirely accurate. It appears that the way that the public option will be structured there will be no motivation for states to opt out. After all, it will be paid for with federal taxes. What possible reason would a governor have to opt out? Their citizens would still pay federal taxes. As such, citizens of a state would pay for the public option but have no use of it.

This is an attempt at misdirection, and it isn't working, at least not so far. So far, all we know is that health care reform has lost Maine Senator Olympia Snowe who called it disappointing that it was in.

The Democrats have had a remarkable knack at making things less clear as the process has moved forward. We still don't know how this opt out option will work. Beyond that, we also don't know anything else. Will the doctor fix be in the bill? How will it be paid for? Things are still no less clear today after this much publicized announcement than they were before it. That is the general direction of the health care debate since the beginning.


Anonymous said...

"Assuming that the states will opt-out of a federally subsidized
government-run plan is like assuming your children will opt-out of their

That's exactly the point. Take advantage of the Republicans' weakness: their hypocrisy on fiscal conservatism.

And its important to remember we have to play this game because the tea party crowd has made it necessary for the Republicans to pay lip service to the ridiculous idea of turning down federal money. After all, Steve King of Iowa did recently say voting against aid for Katrina victims was the vote he was most proud of in his legislative career.

In any case, the opt-out seems to have brought the conservative Democrats on board, so to hell with Olympia Snowe. If she wants to continue to brag about only being involved in health care reform in order to kill it, let her. Ask Charles Grassley how doing that has affected his approval rating.

Anonymous said...


If, as you claim so many people are opposed to the "govt takeover of healthcare", then the opt-out provision is perfect for those states.

We will see if tea party types put their money where their mouth is.