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Progressive Issues for "more and BETTER" Democrats
"Health care is a fundamental right." (Ted Kennedy, 8/26/08)
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The Progressive Platform Project

Can we get Barack Obama to discuss the cost of a Public Option?

by: Eddie C

Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 00:00:39 AM EDT


Cross-posted at DailyKos.

Why is Barack Obama continuing to allow the public option to be coupled with government health care subsidies? That sounds like some Republican and AHIP propaganda and it is causing harm. The American public are hearing about that cost as an issue and many people are being fooled into thinking that this is a wasteful government expense.

I keep seeing on my television how the Blue Dogs are worried about the cost of a Public Option and as I understand it, once a public option is off the ground, the "expense" will be those Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Wouldn't a co-op have a similar start up expense and the cost of less fortunate Americans be much higher under a health insurance mandate if the subsidies are handed over to the for-profit companies?

Last night Lester Holt corrected a "NBC Nightly News" report from the previous evening on the cost of a public option and told America the cost given was the estimated cost of insurance reform as a whole. Mr. Holt did not, perhaps could not explain, the actual cost of a public option.

How much does this Public Option cost anyway? I'm having trouble finding an answer from anywhere but Barack Obama should know and when we elected him we gave him the biggest mouth in America, didn't we?  

Eddie C :: Can we get Barack Obama to discuss the cost of a Public Option?
Obviously Republicans and a deadly industry are attacking the public option on many fronts. The expense of a public option is only reason number four on Karl Rove's list. The other Blue Dogs worry with Kent Conrad as the insurance companies' Democratic spokesperson is that "their constituents don't trust a government take over of health care" and the Republicans have had some success pushing that conspiracy theory too. There's plenty to debunk in the public option debate but it seems that addressing taxpayer expense would be a cakewalk for the President of the United States.

Of the many frustrations one is the inability for the public to find out whether or not a public option would be self sufficient. I don't actually know that a public option would be self sufficient and I'm not sure if anyone knows because they've made it too confusing. While it is easy to see that Barack Obama's message on the public option is lacking in many areas, the lack of a clear message on the nuts and bolts cost of a public option has many Americans walking around thinking and saying that "the Democrats are trying to turn health care into a gigantic and very costly bureaucracy."

The president is forced to give complicated answers over and over to many Republican myths but what could be simpler than just saying how much a public option will cost? There have been many opportunities for the president to embrace Senator Chuck Schumer's presentation of a public option that is both not-for-profit and not-for loss either. That would both alleviate some public fears and charge Congress to come up with a final draft of a public option that is a little less susceptible to the Republican fear mongers.

Perhaps a political junkie can find some place where the president has attempted to clarify the cost to taxpayers of a public option but as the president Barack Obama can go much further than that. Barack Obama did his Organizing for America Forum today on C-SPAN today and told his belt and suspenders story but to nail him down to separating subsidies for public option operating expenses and do it where it would have some impact would move less interested voters. The message of how a public option would function needs to be presented as a crystal clear vision on nationwide television  and he doesn't even seem to be trying.  

At the White House Health Insurance Reform Reality Check page the mention of a public option is in short supply but there is one box that while the linked video doesn't even mention a public option, the text alludes to lowering cost and increasing choice;

This is a myth: even the addition of a public option will be just that - another option -and will not eliminate any choices to the consumer. To the contrary, this would bring down costs and expand choice.

As much as Barack Obama has backpedaled from the public option he may have made the point that such a plan would make insurance less expensive for a consumer but this sticking point of wasting taxpayer money needs more clarity. The final caller on today's Michael Smerconish White House call in asked for clarity about administrative cost of a public option and it seemed like Barack Obama missed her point. If the public option will be meant to operate in the black, then the president failed to point that out.  

How a public option is being allowed to appear like a giant bureaucracy while the scope of mandating the public into paying for for-profit health care is ignored is beyond me. The Republicans and the insurance companies don't have a problem with government bean counters examining every Americans income to set a sliding scale and creating an enforcement to go out and get that pound of flesh from anyone who refuses to purchase health insurance.  

It is really an outrage that a man who had a campaign promise of a public option would do so little to see it through, allow that promise to be  rapidly transformed "the president's suggestion" and then do an about face on the public being mandated into for-profit health care that he stood against on the campaign trail. Now every time you turn on the TV it seems like the employer mandate has been softened more but we are fair game? I can't believe that voters are upset about the government taking over failed health care but forcing Americans to pay up is understandable.  

During that White House call in today I had to agree with the way a caller named Tracy started her question "Until I heard you say recently that the private option is just a tiny sliver of health care reform, myself and many American pretty much thought the public option pretty much was your health care reform..." And when Barack Obama ended the Organizing for America Forum by pointing out that young Americans will have to pay "for at least minimal coverage" I had to say "What a Guy." We elected a Democrat so more American can have minimal coverage, whether they want it or not.  

I think a little reality about the cost of a public option would be a step in the right direction. You can ask at the White House site or call the busy signal at 202-456-1111. If Barack Obama is dead set against the reality getting out about public option expense and you live in a area with progressive representatives perhaps they can be persuaded to enlighten the situation a bit.  

I wish I could keep the faith, but like most of us here, I can still keep writing letters and making phone calls.        

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Here's my assessment... (3.00 / 3)
If we can afford a war, we can afford health care.  I simply want them to take time to 'do it right'.  Back to the old 'haste makes waste' saying.  This isn't a time when we need waste because the 'waste' in that case becomes human lives.  It is critically important that they get it right the first time.  Then, the only thing we have to worry about is the Republicans cutting the program if/when they get back in office.  

US Casualties-Afghanastan Can click date link to see by date.


The imperative is to define what is right and do it. Barbara Jordan


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