Goodbye Public Option?

The Associated Press reports that Democratic Senators, who have been negotiating behind closed doors, have come up with a compromise health care bill that does not include a public option:

In place of a government-run plan, originally designed as a way of forcing competition on private industry, officials said the Democrats had tentatively settled on a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, the tentative deal calls for Medicare to be opened to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the 65-and-over population.

It’s hard to know what any of that means, especially the part about “a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by [a] federal agency.” Most likely, this is one of those breathless headlines that don’t ultimately amount to much, for a couple of reasons. One, anything the Senate passes will have to go through conference committee, where House Democrats will be committed to restoring the public option to the final version of the bill. Two, as I wrote here, the Democrats don’t really need the public option to achieve their goal of government control over your health care.
Still, if nothing else, it’s good to see the Democrats having trouble getting their members to vote for what they know is unpopular legislation that could well cost some of them their jobs.


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