Friday, October 30, 2009

The Public Option is Probably Dead

The only way to get a public option in healthcare reform is now reconciliation. Joe Lieberman opposes the public option, and I bet Evan Bayh and Mary Landrieu ultimately will as well. Even if only Lieberman votes to sustain a filibuster, then the Democrats can’t get to the magic number of 60 votes to invoke cloture.

I posted here earlier about reconciliation, and what I think of it as a tactic, so I won’t repeat.

I would say that the Democrats shouldn’t make the public option an all-or-nothing proposition. They should be able to get a package which provides generous subsidies to the uninsured, and ends deplorable insurance industry practices like denying care for preexisting conditions. That is a victory.

And they can get the public option eventually. The current reforms will cover people, but they will also be really expensive. A few years from now, people will want to keep the universality of the healthcare system, but cut down on the costs. And the most effective way to do that is to have a robust public option. Alternatively, if the new subsidies end up not being as expensive as I fear, perhaps there will be no need for the public option, which I would be fine with.

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