Public option calls for public outcry

October 30, 2009


Does anyone in Washington tell the truth? Why should Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid be believed when he promises states can “opt-out” of a public option on health care? This isn’t like opting-out of sex education class. Individuals won’t be able to avoid the consequences of national health care once the government puts the insurance companies out of business, because there will be no other choice than the government program.

With health insurance “reform,” opting-out is really opting-in for eventual single-payer national health insurance that will include rationing — especially for seniors, who will be told by government what treatment they are allowed — higher taxes, longer waits and substandard care.

Several Democrats have been honest about where this is headed. They deserve thanks from the public for exposing the lies their party leaders are telling us. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s cover-up now includes word games. She thinks the public option should be renamed “the consumer option.” There will be no option for consumers when government undercuts insurance companies, which have fast become Democrats’ Halloween ogres.

Don’t take it from me. Consider Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat: “If it was a public option that was just kind of a stalking horse for a government-run health care system, I don’t think that would have a very good chance.” Kudos to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, for saying, “For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option, they’re talking about another entitlement program and we can’t afford that right now as a nation.”

Imagine that! A Democrat saying we are spending too much as Congress prepares to raise the debt limit to $12 trillion. The deficit is currently at $1.6 trillion.

Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called the push for the public option “a wasted effort” because the votes aren’t there. Sen. Byron Dorgan, also a North Dakota Democrat, agrees: “I’ve indicated I won’t vote for a bill that’s a government takeover of health insurance, or the health care system.” And then there’s Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Democrat and current Independent, who has vowed to join Republicans in a filibuster of any plan that contains a government option.

There is no secret what will fix the problems with health insurance, but liberal Democrats don’t want to fix it, as much as they wish to control it and all of us.

The CATO Institute remains a primary resource for ideas that will work in reforming health insurance. It recommends four steps Congress could take and the public should demand. (1) Give Medicare enrollees a voucher and let them choose any health plan on the market that fits their needs, not what the government dictates. Vouchers would be means-tested, would include Medicare spending and are, says CATO, the only way to protect seniors from rationing.

(2) Congress should reform the tax treatment by allowing large health savings accounts. This would reduce the number of uninsured Americans, would free workers to buy secure health coverage from any source, and would effectively give workers a $9.7 trillion tax cut without increasing the deficit; (3) Congress should breakup state monopolies on insurance and clinician licensing. CATO estimates allowing people to buy insurance from other states could cover one-third of the uninsured without new taxes or government subsidies.

(4) Congress should reform Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) the way it reformed it in 1996 when it block-granted the programs. This would help reduce the deficit and encourage states to target resources to those most in need.

These free market ideas and others like them are a rebuke to the lie by some liberal Democrats that Republicans and conservatives have presented no plan of their own for health insurance reform. They have, but those holding power don’t want to hear them. That’s because they have their own agenda. The only way they can be stopped is by a public outcry and uprising. Not only our health, but also our lives depend on stopping them.


canyon_wren 8 years, 1 month ago

Those alternatives sound reasonable to me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

The public option will not put insurance companies out of business-- their corruption, greed and inefficiency will do that.

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

If we allowed all Americans to maintain large health savings accounts (presumably with pre-tax income), how would that not increase the deficit?

It decreases revenue without a corresponding decrease in spending.

Some of the ideas are reasonable however, imho.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 8 years, 1 month ago

I can rarely take Cal seriously but that's a seriously funny headline!~)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

If 3 million healthy insured dropped their policies in the next two weeks not only would they save thousands of dollars the insurance industry would faint in disbelief that this many people actually are awake and give a damn.

Then they could afford to pay out of pocket.

Sooner or later another few million would do the same. Suddenly all of america would realize the medical insurance business has been doing nothing but making tons and tons of profit by way of fear mongering.

At that point all would see that america could have insurance at a much much lower rate such as 225 a month for the best coverage in the world that includes the entire family.

Makes dollars and sense to me. More money to invest smart instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Maybe get on with that home improvement with cash instead of borrowing from the bank.....just maybe.

Maybe go to Jamaica for a few weeks instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

imastinker 8 years, 1 month ago

Has anyone else read this? I have been trying - so far I see that it raids social security (yet again) to artificially lower the "cost." The penalty for not having insurance is the lesser of 2.5% of AGI or the cost of insurance for not having it (so who is going to pay for insurance??). Lastly, this reimburses health care for people making up to 74k per year with a family of three.

$74k is a LOT of money!!

onehawkoneshock 8 years, 1 month ago

I am continuously amused by the browbeating that the Republicans are doing to try and convince the public that health care reform will result in the government telling us what treatments we can have. Funny, that is exactly what my current insurance company does. I have no real power over my health care decisions. My insurance company tells me what doctors I can see, what treatments I can have and what medical facilities I can go to. And before everyone says that I have the freedom the change insurance companies, do I really? This is the insurance coverage provided by my employer. Reality is that the insurance industry is in control of our health care system. Nobody wants to talk about that. They just want to try to scare people about the government. Give me a break.

jimmyjms 8 years, 1 month ago

"America does not want this. This is a nationalization of health care. Socialism is attacking our national identity, our freedoms and our way of life. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are traitors."

So, PP provided a poll that shows, as all nonpartisan polls do, the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans DO want this.

Your response? Some poo flinging. Do you have anything to backup your silly-ass claims?

While you're cutting and pasting from Newsmax, everyone else can read this:

"RALEIGH, N.C. — Even Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina acknowledges that its timing on two recent mailings was unfortunate. The News&Observer of Raleigh reported that customers first learned their rates will rise by an average of 11 percent next year."

"Then they got a flier urging them to send an enclosed preprinted, postage-paid note to Sen. Kay Hagan denouncing what the company says is unfair competition that would be imposed by a government-backed insurance plan. Congress is likely to consider that public option as it debates the health care overhaul."

"Beth Silberman of Durham said she "went sort of bonkers" about the mailing. "You're hostage to them, and then they pull this," she said. "My new premiums are funding lobbying against competition. It's pretty disgusting."


tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

I whole-heartedly agree our country needs its health care system reformed. Where I have trouble with the idea is the stubborn mindset which holds only the federal government can be the principal instrument to accomplish this reform. Only another massive expenditure of borrowed money and another gigantic entitlement program we cannot afford will solve our problems. On I could go about the federal government’s stunning track record of abject failure when it comes to entitlement spending. In just a few short years, our national debt will exceed our GDP. No one even mentions much less includes the cost of the interest that will have to be paid – on top of the expense of operating another huge entitlement program. The fiscal calamity that awaits this country scares me to death. I know that many people are motivated by a sincere concern for the less fortunate, but this noble empathy is not an excuse to ignore the fact the health care plans currently being discussed are simply suicidal.

That’s why I am at a complete loss to explain why on Earth sane people would even be discussing such a reckless proposition without FIRST trying everything they could to resolve our health care problems in a way that doesn’t cost anything. Perhaps I would even join the heard of lemmings headed for the cliff, and get on the tax and spend band wagon if there were at least a token attempt at addressing some meaningful “free” reforms. Sadly, there isn’t. This forces me to ponder why, when facing financial Armageddon, our congress won’t give these no-brianer ideas the slightest consideration. Not long into such reflection a person has to ask if this insanity is really about improving our health care, or is it about something else.

G_E 8 years, 1 month ago

If I weren't currently at work, I would consider beginning my weekend a little early by taking a shot every time I saw the word "socialism" misused on this board - I would be drunk in less than 30 minutes.

Pete Kennamore 8 years, 1 month ago

G_E, I'm sure your employer appreciates your surfing the LJW discussion boards on his or her dime.


G_E 8 years, 1 month ago


Get off your high horse - there are such things as breaks, you know.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

Porch - you are in top form today. Once again you are impervious to common sense.

Whats child-like about expecting my government to enact reforms that will most certainly improve the health care problems our country has, but don't cost tax payers anything? They increase access. They lower costs. They accomplish the president's stated objectives - and they're FREE. Sure these reforms may well cost certain special interest groups some profits, but they won't tax payers anything.

"It's like you somehow think that solutions haven't been attempted in the past."

I don't think porch - I know. Show me an example of people buying health insurance across state lines, deducting all of their health care expenses like business does, being able to deposit as much pre-tax money as they want into a HSA, people "owning" their health insurance policy and taking it where ever they wanted, or giving people on Medicaid a means-tested voucher to get health care where ever they want, or forcing doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies to publicly advertise the cost of drugs and procedures so people can shop the price.

Show me where ONE of these ideas have been tried. Every one of them has been in one or more alternative bills that have been proposed and defeated in committee during this health care debate.

I guess in your world, common sense is naive and child-like. It's either that, or people like you are afraid of these ideas because they would work and deprive you of the vote-buying, perpetual re-election scheme liberals long for.

kansanbygrace 8 years, 1 month ago

Where have all these geniuses been for the last 15 years? The size and expenditures of the national government and its incursion into our private lives has multiplied in this time. The last 9 years have marked the greatest increase in the size and intrusiveness of government in the lives of sovereign citizens in the history of the world. The Bush/Cheney machine increased government expenditure to that greater than ever, anywhere. And now, 10 months into a new administration they all start choking on the very same phenomena they've been promoting for the last decade and a half.
Are they all on crank?

jafs 8 years, 1 month ago

This may be obvious, but doctors/pharmacists/other health care workers are people too.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

This has nothing to do with political party affiliation and/or ideology Porch. This is about common sense. Denigrate whomever you wish. It's irrelevant.

These reform ideas were introduced in several pieces of alternative legislation and were all defeated in committee. (fact) The ideas remain untried. (fact) Theses ideas don't add to our debt. (fact) Our debt is killing our country. (fact) Government reforming anything without first trying the least expensive approach defies common sense. (rational conclusion) Ignoring free reforms and deciding instead to spend trillions of borrowed dollars as we teeter on the brink of national bankruptcy is insane. (rational conclusion)

You haven't offered one iota of evidence to refute a single fact - just a lot of partisan conjecture and a rather naive, child-like collection of ad hominem and straw man fallacy. Come on Porch - at least Merill posts links.

I think you agree with me, but can't bring yourself to say it because you don't like conservative anything - let alone conservative libertarians. Come on porch, it's Friday. Break with tradition. Surprise me.

puddleglum 8 years, 1 month ago

yeah, everything calls for public outcry these days, right Cal? I don't even have to read the above anymore. it is so convenient. I love all the up in arms! tea baggers, birthers, sarah palins, death panels, childish congressmen, astroturfers, nobel-naysayers, great white hopes, opossum eatin' non-racist rappers, and now we can add pro-big insurance company bigots to the list. 2009, it was a hell of a year for Grampa's Ol' Party.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

Porch -

  1. The alternative health care reform ideas I mentioned that do not cost the tax payers a thing are not being included in the health care bill because they were defeated in committee. They are not old, failed ideas. If you think they are - prove it. What was the name of the now-defunct law they were once a part of?

  2. Apparently, Congress would rather spend trillions we don't have on another large entitlement program, rather than try things that are free first. There has been no explanation offered by the congressional leadership for this behavior. If you think there has been - prove it.

Your points / comments avoid these two salient points because you can't refute them. You can't refute them because they are true.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 1 month ago

Either we have the public option to introduce competition to the marketplace, or the anti-trust exemption should be lifter to allow the market place to work.

Funny how the wingers and pay or die apologists hate the public option for being government intrusion in the free market, but are quite happy to have the government exempt them from anti-trust laws.

Bob Harvey 8 years, 1 month ago

I find it facinating with all the discussion of health payment "reform" there is very little, if any, discussion on reducing the cost of healthcare. Basically we are debating who will pay for your healthcare and mine. It has absolutely nothing to do with the "cost" of the product. For those that think increasing governmental control will increase access to care I believe you have a surprise coming your way. Look around Lawrence, how many primary care practices accept Medicaid patients? If the 21.5% cut in Medicare goes into effect on January 1st see how many physicians reduce or eliminate their Medicare population.

Cost? How many patients show up in the ER for conditions that should and could be taken care of by family physicians? But hey, I can go to the ER and incur all of those costs since I have no plan on paying those bills.

For informational purposes let me say that I am also against paying incredibly high costs for procedures on the elderly that will never justify the cost when compared to a few extra months of life. If the patient or the family wants to pay the costs that is fine, but the system should not be burdened with thesm. If anyone feels I am a fraud I recently verified with my aged mother that her end of life will come when her body says its time, not when her insurance runs out or worse...when it will continue to pay for useless procedures.

Everyone seems to ignore the third corner of the medical triangle. We have the provider of care....we have the payor for the care...and most importantly we have the consumer of the care. In all the discussions recently the cconsumer is being ignored. What role do you as the consumer play in all of this?

I remember a phrase my Dad used to say to me. "Son", he would say, "no one pays to wash a rental car". When there is no cost to you in what you receive the value of the service doesn't mean anything either. That's why we continue to go to the doctor for minor things that an advil or a decent nights sleep would cure. Heck it doesn't matter, someone else is paying for it.

Until we are ready to admit we abuse the system on a daily basis none of us have any business complaining about who is paying for it.

So give me a system that you and I have a responsibility for...our own health care.

The missive is done...I hope.

May Hippocrates bless you all.

staff04 8 years, 1 month ago

It's almost as if the person who made the statement below had read Cal's most recent piece of...well...

"I am puzzled by the reasoning of those who oppose the public option.

On the one hand, they claim that the government can’t do anything right and that a public health insurance plan would be a disaster.

On the other hand, they argue that the government plan would be so desirable that it would drive private companies out of the business, leading to the virtual destruction of our healthcare system.

Not only do they err in holding two wholly opposing points simultaneously, both of their arguments are wrong on their own terms.

Some consumers will think the public option better than what they have now, and they will choose it; others will think their current plan is better, and they’ll stick with what they have.

The irony is that the people who most oppose giving consumers that choice are the ones who claim to protect 'choice' – as long as it is for the status quo."

Rep. Barney Frank

jaywalker 8 years, 1 month ago

Liberty One at 1:38 for the WIN!! And thanks for the chuckle.


There is no point, none whatsover, in trying to have a rational discussion with the porchie. Seven year olds can make stronger arguments, and when everything else fails for him (as it inevitably does), he will resuscitate some old, even more childish non-point, and then pretend he's won somehow.
You'd spend your time more wisely just sitting on a creek bank, watching a bridge rust. Trust me.


Excellent post! A touch harsh w/ your take on the elderly, but it is a harsh reality that need be faced.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 1 month ago

"There has got to be middle ground, "

Yes. If the public option is not going to come to fruition, then eliminate the pay or die insurance industry's exemption from anti-trust laws. If insurance monopolies were not protected by this exemption, there would be far greater competition in the marketplace.

tbaker 8 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the reminder Jaywalker. I was feeling lucky and thought some pretty straightforward evidence may actually work this time, but you're right. Porch is a lost cause. He doesn't realize the true nature of the president and congress. If their intention truly was making sure all Americans have access to health care, and bringing down cost for those who already have it, it wouldn't take a 1900 page bill, and it wouldn't cost trillions. Porchie and his ilk won't be happy until this entire country is one giant assisted living facility.

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