Monday, August 17, 2009

Bye Bye Public Option and other shitty news

On a day when James Call: Expert is locked in a death-struggle he appears to be losing with a collection agency, it's very appropriate that the public option, perhaps the one policy item we had the most right to feel hopeful about, in the wake of the 2008 elections, is now more-or-less officially kaput.

Today in Health Care Reform

So yeah, over the weekend, Obama and crew (specifically Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) basically threw the public option under the rug. Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota said that the public option "never" had the votes to pass in the Senate, and Obama et al are basically giving him and his ilk the nod, albeit still ostensibly saying the public option is the best way to go.

Paul Krugman and Nate Silver don't seem too depressed about it; in order to avoid being depressed myself, I'm deferring to their expertise. But we now know that even if health care reform does result in expanded coverage, especially to folks like me, with pre-existing conditions, it's going to do very little for cost, which should be a major concern, and may very well lead to calls a few decades down the line to do away with the entire thing.

The big question now is whether anything will be done to rein in the vicious cycle of doctors charging insurance companies for big-item, frivolous treatments. This will require cracking the whip on both doctors and insurers, and I'm not sure anyone in government has the backbone to do that, at this point. Still, this is one of the major problems driving cost, and to rectify this problem doesn't require spending any money at all. It just requires the will to stand up to these constituencies. Something we haven't seen a whole lot of so far, sadly.

Very, very disappointing.

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