It's Baaack: The Public Option Zombie

Is it really dead and just doesn't realize it, like some weird Zombie? Or has the full court press PR campaign by the White House simply convinced the press that the public option in in health insurance reform is back on the table?

The Wall Street Journal:

Sounding taken aback himself, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus recently declared that the public option is "alive." A better term might be undead: This new government-run health insurance program akin to Medicare for the middle class continues to stagger forward, zombie-like, despite what were thought to be fatal blasts earlier this fall from Senate centrists and the House Blue Dogs-that is, from Mr. Baucus's fellow Democrats.
***The public option's renewed momentum is mostly the product of the raw ideological willfulness of the progressive left. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they're not about to let a once-in-a-generation opportunity pass without a fight, and they view the public option as a down payment on single-payer health care. They're right to think so; a public option will quickly blow up the private insurance market.

In particular, Mrs. Pelosi believes she's found a political trump. A so-called "robust" public option will cost the government less than other plans, since it will pay doctors and hospitals fees pegged to Medicare's price controls on thousands of services. The Congressional Budget Office has reportedly found that these below-market payments would result in "savings" of $110 billion, compared to requiring a public option to negotiate rates with providers like a private company would.Yet as the government pays less, the private sector pays more. Like Medicare today, hospitals will shift some of their losses into higher private insurance premiums.

What chance does Pelosi have of ramming this thing through?

She claims to be within a couple of votes in the House for a "robust" public option. She's dreaming.

Mike Allen of Politico:

But Pelosi's vote-counting didn't go as well in the House. There has been a flurry of rumors that a robust government option remains viable. But top House Democrats privately concede that is wishful thinking that ignores the power of moderate Democrats in this debate.

The House is now likely to include one of the two weaker versions in the bill that will be considered on the floor as Obama's historic health-reform plan chugs toward passage - possibly a version that would set rates for the public plan by allowing doctors and hospitals to negotiate them with Medicare.

As for the whole idea of a public option, as many as 45 Blue Dogs have said they will not support it. That means if the count holds, the public option is dead.

But Pelosi and Obama are hoping to generate momentum by saying they are within a few votes of getting it. It's a tactic that rarely works because it is so transparent. What might change the minds of Blue Dogs is pressure from their home districts. Most of them aren't getting it.

So the public option is pretty much of a zombie. But the liberals won't give up until a floor vote drives a stake through its heart.

 

Is it really dead and just doesn't realize it, like some weird Zombie? Or has the full court press PR campaign by the White House simply convinced the press that the public option in in health insurance reform is back on the table?

The Wall Street Journal:

Sounding taken aback himself, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus recently declared that the public option is "alive." A better term might be undead: This new government-run health insurance program akin to Medicare for the middle class continues to stagger forward, zombie-like, despite what were thought to be fatal blasts earlier this fall from Senate centrists and the House Blue Dogs-that is, from Mr. Baucus's fellow Democrats.
***

The public option's renewed momentum is mostly the product of the raw ideological willfulness of the progressive left. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they're not about to let a once-in-a-generation opportunity pass without a fight, and they view the public option as a down payment on single-payer health care. They're right to think so; a public option will quickly blow up the private insurance market.

In particular, Mrs. Pelosi believes she's found a political trump. A so-called "robust" public option will cost the government less than other plans, since it will pay doctors and hospitals fees pegged to Medicare's price controls on thousands of services. The Congressional Budget Office has reportedly found that these below-market payments would result in "savings" of $110 billion, compared to requiring a public option to negotiate rates with providers like a private company would.

Yet as the government pays less, the private sector pays more. Like Medicare today, hospitals will shift some of their losses into higher private insurance premiums.

What chance does Pelosi have of ramming this thing through?

She claims to be within a couple of votes in the House for a "robust" public option. She's dreaming.

Mike Allen of Politico:

But Pelosi's vote-counting didn't go as well in the House. There has been a flurry of rumors that a robust government option remains viable. But top House Democrats privately concede that is wishful thinking that ignores the power of moderate Democrats in this debate.

The House is now likely to include one of the two weaker versions in the bill that will be considered on the floor as Obama's historic health-reform plan chugs toward passage - possibly a version that would set rates for the public plan by allowing doctors and hospitals to negotiate them with Medicare.

As for the whole idea of a public option, as many as 45 Blue Dogs have said they will not support it. That means if the count holds, the public option is dead.

But Pelosi and Obama are hoping to generate momentum by saying they are within a few votes of getting it. It's a tactic that rarely works because it is so transparent. What might change the minds of Blue Dogs is pressure from their home districts. Most of them aren't getting it.

So the public option is pretty much of a zombie. But the liberals won't give up until a floor vote drives a stake through its heart.