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Public Option Dying In Senate, Just As New Poll Reveals 60% Of Americans Want It

by on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 6:31 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to come up with the 60-required votes to pass ANY variation of a public option.  The key obstructionists remain as dug in as ever, and any who’ve hinted at compromise are adamant that any public option be so watered down, as to lose any effectiveness:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is unyieldingly opposed to any kind of public option. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) says time and again she won’t support a “government-run, government-funded” insurance program. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) says there is room for compromise, maybe on a public option that states could opt into.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will only consider a public option that serves as an optional fallback if private insurance reforms fail, an idea that Lincoln and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) say has appeal. Liberals adamantly oppose a fallback/trigger public option.

Now Reid is attempting to garner support for, yet a new watered down version of a public option, called “The Hammer,” devised by Senator Tom Carper.  This one is sort of a hybrid between the public option already in the current bill and the trigger option that Olympia Snowe prefers.  The Hammer acts as a state-by-state trigger, where a public option would kick in immediately — as opposed to taking a year to kick in as the trigger option stipulated — for states where insurance companies have failed to meet certain standards on plan availability and affordability.  The bill would establish a national public insurance program but have a non-governmental board run it.  Outside of its initial seed money, it would have no access to taxpayer dollars.

Though there’s little detailed information out yet on this proposal, from the surface it looks better than the trigger option.  But make no mistake about it, Republicans are going to feign outrage — declare it’s still  a government takeover — to ensure those like Olympia Snow can’t claim they were able to remain true to their principles [whatever they are] and still support this legislation.

I just don’t see the politicians in the pockets of the health insurance industry agreeing to anything that resembles a public option at this point.  Meanwhile, here are the findings of a new Thomson Reuters poll:

  • Believe in public option: 59.9 percent yes, 40.1 percent no.
  • 86 percent of Democrats support the public option versus 57 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans.
  • Quality of healthcare will be better 12 months from now: 35 percent strongly disagree. 11.6 percent strongly agree. 29.9 percent put themselves in the middle.
  • Believe the amount of money spent on healthcare will be less 12 months from now: 52 percent strongly disagree, 13 percent strongly agree.
  • 23 percent believe it will be easier for people to receive the care they need a year from now.

The survey shows that a MAJOR MAJORITY of Americans are in favor of a public option, but have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in their elected representatives to actually pass anything that makes health care more affordable, more accessible, or that improves its quality.

President Obama and the Democratic majorities in both houses would be wise to pay close attention to what Americans are telling them, here.  If you believed for a second that you could pass some watered down farcical excuse for a health care bill and try to sell it as “real health care reform” the public is already a step ahead of you on that.  Americans have so little confidence that you’ll do the right thing, they’re anticipating there will be no real reform.

Senator Reid, if The Hammer initiative fails I’d say it’s about time to reconsider reconciliation …


Please sign MoveOn’s new petition, found HERE.  It reads:

“Senator Reid, don’t let a few senators derail what the majority of Americans want and need. We’re counting on you to use every tool at your disposal to make sure the Senate bill includes a public option.”