Just listened to Grassley and his argument on C-Span against Rockefeller's public option amendment to the Finance Committee bill. It's hard to believe that this guy was ever taken seriously. He comes across as a senile ideologue. Perhaps in that his electoral charm lies. Any Iowans want to help me understand that better? Hatch, at least, is semi-coherent in his concerns about the costs and his fears that the public option will be a Trojan horse leading to single payer. He's probably right about the second part. But single payer, if it ever comes to that in this country, will never be the only option. It will be like public universities and private universities. There will be niches not effectively covered by the public plan that private insurers can fill. Private universities, it should be pointed out are non-profits. Private sector does not necessarily mean profit driven. And private universities are not driven out of business by public. But any for-profit insurance company should be driven out of business if it can't compete with non-profits on cost, quality, and access.
The main goal, for me at least, for healthcare reform is to remove the bulk--let's say 80% of insurance out of the the for-profit sphere. It's ridiculous that shareholders should be the primary constituents of the insurance companies and not their customers. So if public or private doesn't matter as much to me as non-profit/profit. If a non-profit, private insurance system could be set up, I'd be fine with it. Most hospitals in the U.S. are community non-profits. It's possible, but it's not likely, so the government has to take the lead. The subsidiarist principle here is that the government should step in to server the public interest when the private sector won't meet those needs. It's not that hard to understand.
As I write this, Menendez of NJ makes an important point that seems to get lost, which is that the public option is not an entitlement like Medicare, it's "a self-sustaining, independent, self-financing entity" and that's different, and it makes a big difference because it's simply attempting to be what I described in the previous paragraph--a non-profit insurance provider. It will pay for itself. The entitlement part is in the subsidies, and there's little controversy about that.
In any event, the debate doesn't really matter. It's not as if anybody's mind is going to be changed by it. What matters more is the politics, and the politics are all about how the conservadems see themselves positioned on the issue. They thought they had cover in bi-partisanship, but now that there's no pretense regarding bi-partisanship, the effort to make them appear tools of the insurance industry seems to be working. It's hard to tell whether the ads being run against the conservadems in their home states are working, but it's the kind of thing that has to happen.
So this vote in Finance will be an interesting bellwether. More as the day progresses, if there's anything worth saying.
P.S. Howard Dean was interesting on Countdown last night. When O'Donnell asked him whether he would recommend voting for a bill if it didn't have a public option in it, he said, he recommend taking all the money out of it, and just voting on the insurance reforms. It's not all or nothing, but the main goal is to prevent this bill from being a Medicare Part D type giveaway to the insurance companies. He veiled scorn for the conservadems who are voting the insurance company line was refreshing from somebody who doesn't think keeping Democratic incumbents in power is the sole purpose of the DNC.
Here's the U-Tube. It's worth watching if you haven't seen it. Dean comes in at the 3:30 mark: