Friday, July 24, 2009


You're sitting in your doctors office. You are told some sobering news about a medical condition that needs immediate attention. You listen. Your doctor says you need to get started immediately. You nod. Then your doctors asks, " so how are you going to pay for it"? This is the absurdity of the health care system opponents of the public option want to defend.

No one, surely not the Republicans who have been the most vocal opponents of a public option, ever ask, "how are we going to pay for police protection?" Or fire protection.They never asked "how are we going to pay for a Star Wars program?" or national defense.

They would argue, and in most cases rightly, that a strong defense against anything that threatens our life,liberty and pursuit of happiness has to be a priority and you do what you have to do in order to protect it and not worry about cost. Waste yes, cost no.

But the same is true for health care. Disease and inadequate access to quality healthcare also threatens the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of American citizens. Lack of adequate health care is a threat. And fighting those things should be as important as funding our national defense.
You never heard the people opposing the public option now argue "how are we going to pay for it?" when Bush invaded Iraq. You didn't hear them say "how are we going to pay for it"? when the Bush Administration burned through $1 billion a day in Iraq, mismanaging everything, wasting tens of billions, giving no bid contracts that wasted more billions and causing chaos while exploding the deficit. But the truth is, the current health care system is a bigger threat to more Americans than Sadaam ever was.

The only, repeat only, meaningful and substantial overhaul of the health care system is the public option which will give people the choice to keep their current insurance if they want it or opt in to a government paid for health plan. But asking "how are we going to pay for it"? as a means to stop it is is the wrong question. It's like the doctor asking the patient how they are going to pay for much needed treatment before giving it and making payment the priority.

The patient now is the healthcare system which everyone agrees is very sick. The market driven system places healthy profits ahead of healthy people and makes costs and profits for insurance companies the most important thing.When it comes to most insurance, it's healthy people wanted, sick people need not apply.The insurance companies don't care if it costs you an arm and a leg even if its your real arm and real leg.

This is what makes the most immoral game in Washington the "how are we going to pay for it"? game when it comes to the public option.

How do you pay for it? There are a few plans being hammered out now. The question shouldn't be how, but a commitment that the public option is going to be a reality and how it will be paid for will be worked out. Sometimes you just do what you have to do for the public good, do what is necessary and not worry how you are going to pay for it .Because it doesn't matter how you are going to pay for it, you find a way. You just do it.

For opponents of a public option it really isn't how its paid for anyway, they just want to stop it and use the question of how to pay for it as an excuse not to do it all. We know this because their arguments in ads, TV commercials and in public forums are all generally based on lies, deception and illogic.

One group is running a commercial that says "call your congressman and say no to the public option:"

The problem with that is, the public option reform being offered already allows anyone to say no if they don't want to opt in to a government plan . It's not just that they don't want it, they don't want you to have it either. That's not about saving lives its about saving insurance companies and their bottom lines.

The whole argument about how we pay for a public option is, as Oscar Wilde once said, knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The money to pay for it is there. Anyone can throw around statistics but the current system is a mess and you cant possibly take numbers that exist today and project them ten years down the road and think they are going to be accurate. Any number regarding costs now can only be an estimate. And there are people who say there are unseen cost benefits down the road that will allow the public option to pay for itself.

But the benefits of reforming health care aren't an estimate. They are real and concrete and will have an immediate beneficial effect. That is the value of the public option. And, since according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans would favor higher taxes to pay for a government plan,that majority seems to understand the value and aren't too worried about the cost. And neither should the congress.


jacksmith said...

Very very good Marc :-)

jacksmith --- Working Class

Anonymous said...

The only, repeat only, meaningful and substantial overhaul of the health care system is the public option which will give people the choice to keep their current insurance if they want it or opt in to a government paid for health plan.

It's not the only option.

Single payer is a BETTER option.

Marc Rubin said...

"Single payer is a BETTER option."

The public option IS the single payer option. The difference is it gives people a choice to join the single payer option or keep their present insurance. Obama would probably be smarter to use "single payer option" instead of public option in his speeches.

DancingOpossum said...

No, it's not the same thing, at least not in this plan.

Obama's "public option" would not really be an option. If you have employer-paid insurance you will not be allowed to opt for the public option, even if your employer-paid insurance sucks and you hate it, even if you're paying a fortune for it and would save money on the public option. The plan is estimated to cover only a9 to 10 million people, which is better than what we have, yes, and nice for them, but really shitty for the 30 million or more who will be left out.

Obama's plan is NOT single payer. It's not even close. It keeps the insurance companies fat and happy and still denies real care and coverage to millions of Americans.